By Teresa Baker
English remains one of the world’s most popular languages, with almost 1.75 billion people speaking it as a first or second language. One of the most effective ways to improve your English is to study in an English-speaking country such as the United States so that you are immersed in the language and culture. Here are 5 considerations to help you choose the right U.S. English program for you:
1. Choose an accredited program
Schools that are accredited have been reviewed by an independent agency to ensure that they meet standards of quality for their faculty, curriculum, and student services. The national accreditation agencies for intensive English programs in the U.S. are the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA) and the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET) — check their websites for lists of accredited schools.
2. Think about the location
The most popular states for English study are California, New York, and Texas, but there are wonderful programs in all 50 states! Think about the type of experience you want outside of the classroom to help you narrow your choices. Are you dreaming of the beaches of California or Florida? Ready to hit the ski slopes of Colorado or Utah? Put on your cowboy boots and waltz across Texas? Your local EducationUSA office can help you with a list of schools in the states you like best.
3. Look into the extras
Besides classes, many schools offer additional services such as social events, academic workshops and advising, and extra conversation practice. If you’re looking at a university-affiliated program, make sure English students have access to university libraries, health centers, and other facilities. If you’re considering a private program, find out if they partner with a local university or community organization to provide similar access.
4. Don’t forget additional costs
In addition to program tuition, you will need to prepare for costs such as health insurance, transportation, housing and food, and books and supplies. Big cities tend to have higher housing costs, so if your budget is limited, look at English programs in smaller towns. Programs should list complete estimated expenses on their website to help you plan your budget; if you don’t see them listed, ask.
5. Consider your long-term goals
What’s next for you after your English studies? If your plan is to improve English in order to start a degree program in the U.S., investigate schools that specialize in academic English preparation. These schools will typically offer supplemental courses for the admissions exams needed, such as TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, and GRE. And some schools will offer conditional admission or pathway programs, so you are guaranteed acceptance to a degree program once you successfully complete your English studies.
The English Language Center
One CEA-accredited program is The English Language Center at The University of Texas at Austin. Austin is the capital city of Texas and is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 cities to live in the U.S. It’s known for its live music scene, friendly people, and abundant parks and green spaces. The University of Texas at Austin is a Tier 1 research university that offers more than 150 degree options at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
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