For the last fifty years or so the number of international students choosing to spend some time studying in a foreign country has been steadily increasing, with the United States of America being one of the top destinations. Of course, such a decision is not without potential issues, and having a different native language is one of the most obvious. This is what drives more and more younger (pre-college) learners to move away from opportunities such as exchange schemes, opting instead to join specialist schemes offered by K-12 private schools, or private high schools like those based in Colorado.
Any foreign student who hails from a country where English is not the official native language will need to access a learning system of some kind. English as a second language (ESL) courses operate in many different ways, but those which are quite intense, and delivered to small groups of students to better meet their individual needs and learning styles, are perhaps going to be the most successful. Regardless – when it comes to foreign students studying at a private school it’s essential that they do study English, and here are the main reasons why this is so vital.
English is the language of instruction for all subjects
When an American school offers international students a study opportunity which is fully immersive this is more than a few token mixers and a full ESL schedule; instead, all students follow a timetable which has no concessions in terms of which subjects are offered to the foreign learners. Consequently, learners need to study seriously in their supplementary English language classes to be able to follow anything happening in the other lessons.
Other school programs offer an intensive ESL learning opportunity which focuses on all the key skills – reading, writing, listening and speaking, as well as covering all aspects of the English language – including grammar and vocabulary. This approach, delivered in small and supportive groups to ensure there is opportunity for all to learn and receive individual tutor attention both makes learning meaningful, and helps accelerate the process of learning.
Studying English helps international learners enjoy a complete American experience
Part of student life is taking part in various social and cultural activities, both organized and informal. There’s no doubt that developing their English skills enables students to have a deeper and more meaningful experience when engaging in such activities. Socially it is much easier to independently plan and enjoy all kinds of events when language is not a major barrier to communication.
Foreign students who study on an English as a second language program are also much more able and likely to hang out and make friends with other students who don’t share their first language. They may never have had the opportunity to get to know others from quite different cultures to themselves, with different life experiences and future expectations and plans.
They will also find educational field trips more useful and interesting, and in turn, all of these things help to perpetuate the positive cycle of study-learn-achieve, which is what all students have the right to enjoy.
Learning English helps with integration
We already mentioned that communicative ESL language skills, (delivered in a way which boosts a student’s confidence to actually use them), help learner’s make friends with students from all language backgrounds, but they will also find their blossoming language is a further benefit when it comes to their accommodation.
International students generally stay with an American host family, who are all experienced at providing a caring and supportive environment for a foreign student to thrive in. Some host families may have children in the home, others consist of a couple whose children have grown and left the nest, but what they all have in common is the ability and commitment to provide a comfortable, English speaking experience to the international learners who stay with them.
This is a generally a relaxed environment to really practice the English that has been learned, and to pick up more through casual conversation. Of course, every family receives training before they become host parents, so they are able to properly encourage students in their learning. Being seen as one of the family means understanding and following the rules of a host family’s place, and also joining in with some family social activities. These things are all great opportunities to use and pick up extra English.
ESL study increases the future opportunities for foreign students
Spending time in the United States as an international student learning English as a second language as an immersive approach is an incredibly valuable experience, and for those who would perhaps like to take their overseas study to another level this can be a great opportunity to discover further options. This could involve studying for recognized qualifications such as TOEFL or TOEIC, or perhaps cover the key points of the College Preparatory Program should the students wish to join a higher education program in the future.
ESL study as a total experience
Intensive language learning in small group situations, boosted by an English speaking homestay, and plenty of social options available for further practice, tends to produce great results – measured by a more rapid growth of a student’s ability across all skill areas than you would expect to see from attendance on a regular English as a foreign language program. Additionally, the access to special, student-centered support services, which could include such things as advice on visas and homestays, and academic and cultural counselling makes for an overall experience which is both thorough and productive.
The thought of studying and living in a world which uses English can be daunting for international students, which is why they can feel confident about choosing an opportunity to study overseas in the USA which delivers fast results in an incredibly supportive environment.