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English as a Second Language (ESL) - Tips for Students

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/24/2006 | Education
Are you moving to an English speaking country? Will you need English for your career or your education? If so, you may wish to investigate your options for learning, or improving, your English skills.

The TOEFL Test

TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language) is a test used by many colleges, universities, government agencies and exchange and scholarship programs in the US, UK and Canada as a means of evaluating the language skills of a person whose first language is not English.

TOEFL study guides can be obtained easily online with other recommended resources listed. You may be able to access some of the sample tests and prepare with personal study. Or you may look for a class with an instructor to help you prepare for the test.

ESL Classes

ESL classes are a common means for students to learn English with group of classmates. These can be in the form of an evening class with various individuals attending or may be part of a college program during the day.

The course length and the topics covered will differ from country to country and school to school. Some summer programs are geared for international students to gain a basic grasp of the language before starting studies in English taught classes of the college or university.

Since the standards of passing a course, or the course material itself, will vary drastically, some students may feel that the language skills gained upon completing the course does not equip them to handle school work or social interactions adequately.

Other schools may include home-stay programs for students. Home-stay programs benefit the student by placing them for several weeks or months with a host family that speaks English. The student is then able to immerse him or herself in the culture and social speaking of the English country they are living in.

There are also online ESL programs that may be suitable for distance education, especially if programs are not readily available in your area.

Private Tutors

Another popular method of learning English is with private tutors. The materials and methods used by ESL tutors will vary greatly and it is important to establish what material will be used and to feel comfortable with the tutor. Asking friends or other students for references can be helpful in finding a good tutor.

Some individuals may wish to combine methods; perhaps taking a summer course while staying with a home-stay host family and then arranging for private tutoring during the school year. Making an effort to use your new language skills regularly in social situations will improve your progress regardless of the program or course you are using.