What does a Good ESL Program Look Like?
When searching for an English program in the United States, you’ll likely see the acronym “ESL” all over the place. This is an easy way to refer to “English as a Second Language.” There are many schools, universities, and other nonprofits that offer ESL classes. With the rise of technology, ESL programs are offered online and through apps as well.
Learning another language is difficult as it is, especially if your native tongue is very different from the one you are learning. For example, learning English can be very difficult if you are from the Middle East or China where the languages have a completely different alphabet. In fact, we have an entire blog on the challenges of learning English! Don’t let those discourage you, as we work with students from all over the world who are successful in learning English as a second language every day.
What’s the difference? Why do some people struggle to learn English while others seem to pick it up quickly? Well, there is certainly something to be said for the quality of the ESL program in which you enroll.
Types of ESL Programs
ESL programs come in all shapes and sizes. Just one Google search for “ESL Programs” yields millions of results. You can study English on your own, you can purchase a software program, you could work with an app on your iPhone, listen to YouTube videos, watch English shows on Netflix, and do several different activities to help you on your ESL journey. All of these can be helpful, but they might not get you fluent in English.
If you’re serious about learning English, these are some of the different ESL programs and the pros and cons of each one.
Classic Language Software
For determined learners, doing an ESL course by yourself might be tempting. You can save a lot of money and compile your own resources or utilize some classics like Rosetta Stone or Duolingo. These types of programs will likely help you with learning English phrases and vocabulary and memorize a lot of the basics of the language. However, becoming truly fluent without an immersive experience is unlikely. This option might be best for someone who is studying from another country and could be a great starting point for your ESL experience.
Language Learning Apps
You see ads everywhere promising language learning within just a few hours or days! How amazing! Yes, applications have tremendous value. After all, who doesn’t want to learn during their commute or when they’re spending time waiting somewhere like a doctor’s office? Apps like Duolingo, Babbel, and several others can help you along your language journey, but they may not help you get fluent. Apps can be a great add-on to your ESL program, especially for students studying abroad. Practice, test your skills, and learn as much as you can from apps.
However, the lack of interaction with native speakers can really be frustrating, but to be fluent, language learners must look for avenues to practice their skills. Some suggestions that could provide interaction with native speakers could be to volunteer at animal shelters or with other community outreach organizations.
Online Language Tutors
Getting a one-on-one tutor can be a great option for learning English. It will take many hours of practice, but you can trust that your time will be well utilized. A tutor is often able to offer customized lessons tailored to your goals. Are you looking to speak English in an office environment? Are you trying to gain entrance into an American University? An online tutor can help prepare you for your specific situation.
The drawback here is the expense. A dedicated tutor will likely be one of the more expensive ESL programs available, and you’ll need to work with their schedule to get your lessons in. You’ll also be lacking the classroom environment where you’d have access to other students who are going through a similar experience.
Intensive English Program at an English Language School
Studying in a true English environment, in the United States, is perhaps the best ESL program option available. For students who want to learn to speak, read, and write in English, an immersive ESL program means you’ll be completely immersed in the English culture and English language. You’ll have the opportunity to hear English spoken around you, and you’ll be practicing in class – not just memorizing phrases or isolated English words.
Again and again, we see success because of the environment we create at Excel English Institute. Our courses are designed to yield maximum proficiency in a limited amount of time. Each student is given resources and opportunity to not only study, but also practice and cultivate their English skills. Students also get the benefits of working with a tutor because of the different classes available; your ESL program is tailored to the goals you have. If you need to study for the TOEFL exam or prepare for an office environment in the U.S., we can help.
Sometimes, if it is difficult to practice with native speakers, then classmates are the next best thing. In an immersive environment, you can use every chance possible to study together, work on projects together or just grab a coffee and chat. You’re surrounded by other learners who are having the same experience as you!
There are lots of options for ESL programs if you want to learn English. Find one that works best for your situation and your budget. Check out the programs we have available at Excel English Institute and apply for our next session. You don’t have to wait for a new semester – we have new sessions starting every month! We’d love to have you. English is an international language and has been proven to be an asset for career advancement and international travel. Once you are on your way to learning English, the end result will definitely pay off.