Alaa Alsabbah from Saudi Arabia: Studies English at the ELS Language Center in Portland, Oregon

Alaa Alsabbah from Saudi Arabia: Studies English at the ELS Language Center in Portland, Oregon


An interview with Alaa Alsabbah from Saudi Arabia, who studies intensive English at ELS Language Center in Portland, Oregon.

Why did you decide to enter a U.S intensive English program?

I received a conditional acceptance to complete my Master’s Degree, but I had to learn English first!

What did you like best about studying here?

I think the weather in Portland is nice, and the people are friendlier here than in other parts of the US. The city of Portland is cool--it’s a great place to study and live.

I like the the month by month system at ELS. It gives me a chance to make quick progress. The division of the levels at ELS is good. There are 12 levels, so everyone can find their place, and get specific help for their weaknesses. The teachers and staff are great too.

I also love the activities here. We have free donuts, or free pizza for lunch. We also take trips to Mt. Hood and Multnomah Falls.

What did you miss most about home?

My family.

...your biggest disappointment?

I expected that the US would not have poor people, or people without homes, but now I know that there is poverty in every country.

How did you handle: 

...Language differences?

I came to Portland with almost zero English. I found that my first 3 months were the most difficult and I almost decided to go home. But I talked with other students and my teachers, and decided to stay. I pushed myself to study and made a special plan to keep myself on track. Now I live easily and want to stay in Portland for a long time. 


I haven't had any trouble.

...Adjusting to a different educational system?

The system here is normal for me. Maybe at University, but at ELS I feel comfortable and haven’t had to adapt too much.

How did your English improve?

My English has improved in every way. Reading is still the most difficult for me, but I’m improving that too.

I must have English to study for my Masters, so English is very significant to my success. English is the most important language in the world, so in the future I will use English often.

What were your activities?

I lived with a great homestay family. We would go out to dinner together and we even visited a Haunted House at Halloween. I learned so much from my family.

What is your advice to other students?

I would say that you must first be patient with the language (English). It will be difficult at first, but keep working hard. You must be ready to face some difficulties, but if you put a learning plan together for yourself, you will be successful.

I’d also advise students to bring a book dictionary and an electronic dictionary with them to the United States. I think these things are even more important than bringing your clothes! They will make your studying, and your life much easier.

ELS Language Centers-Portland


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