Learning a new language is no easy task, but the benefits of doing so are numerous, wide-ranging, and incredibly valuable. Through the study of language, you gain a deep understanding of culture, and, through conversation and writing, become a true player within it.
Learning a second language can even cause changes in the brain that can create some pretty interesting cognitive quirks. Researchers have found that bilingual brains have improved attention and task-switching capabilities, while speaking another language can even help children better adjust to environmental changes, and elderly people experience less cognitive decline.
But what which language is most worth learning? The numbers point to a pretty clear winner. In 2014 it was estimated that 1.5 billion were learning English, and that’s predicted to increase to two billion by 2020. If you were not born into an English-speaking culture, you could wind up being needlessly handicapped in professional and academic life if you cannot boast sound English language skills.
The English language is spoken by a whopping 1.5 billion people – that’s 20 percent of the Earth’s population, and is by far the most studied foreign language in the world. Its dominance is not only present in cinema, music, broadcasting and the world wide web, but also in science, global trade and academia. Learning this language opens more opportunities in more places than any other.
For those looking to study in the United States, many universities offer English Language Pathway Programs that pave the way for further study in the country. You’ll have a unique learning experience that totally immerses you in the culture and challenges you inside and outside of the classroom, every day. There really is no better way to learn a new language than to be surrounded by it on a daily basis. With these sorts of programs, you are given that opportunity to nurture and improve proficiency in English – and have lots of fun while doing so.
It can be a daunting task to choose where to go for this sort of education; after all, the United States is a pretty big place. So, we’ve done a bulk of this chore for you, compiling a list of our four top picks for English study in the US.
Nestled in some of America’s most wild natural landscapes, the University of Montana offers students the perfect balance of country beauty and vibrant city life. Situated in Missoula, Montana’s second-largest city, with around 15,000 students attending university here, life is engaging and diverse.
Founded in 1993, University of Montana’s English Language Institute (ELI) has given students from all over the world the ability to confidently communicate in English. With a student body of 100 pupils hailing from thirty different countries, participants of the ELI are given a truly multicultural experience.
The ELI’s mission is to help international students with limited English improve their abilities and ultimately help them pursue studies at University of Montana, or any other institution of choice. Reflecting the school’s strong emphasis on diversity, the ELI is currently the only university in the US to offer long-term intensive English Language training to Humphrey Fellows – a program that provides a year of professional enrichment to experienced professionals from designated countries throughout the world. The school also runs successful exchange programs with their counterparts in Taiwan, China, and Japan.
Although it’s true that studying at Montana offers a uniquely American experience, you’ll also get to know people from all over the world. Guligori Tagayboboi, from Tajikistan tells us, “ELI is a good place to get to know a lot of international students, you can learn not only American culture but foreign cultures too.”
For those who fancy themselves as future tech entrepreneurs, or simply fancy some of that California sunshine, there are few better places to study than San Jose State University. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the university is the oldest in California and expertly blends tradition and innovation. With award-winning faculty; cutting-edge programs, and visionary teachers from local corporations like Google, Apple, Cisco, and Adobe, many students here even go on to intern at companies like these.
Clearly a place like Silicon Valley attracts the best and brightest minds from all over the world, and in 1975, the university opened its intensive English language program, International Gateways, to help students improve their English and boost their prospects. Their Conditional Admissions program provides students the opportunity to experience campus life while advancing their English language skills to meet SJSU admission qualifications. There are over 400 student organizations, and students are encouraged to participate in campus life, to be inspired to create change and shape the world.
With over 100 languages spoken in Silicon Valley and instructors with extensive international experience, students are welcomed into a truly diverse environment. If there’s any doubt to studying abroad in the US, take heed to SJSU student Alicia Bogart, “For me, diversity has been one of the biggest, coolest things about this area and I love the international students. It doesn’t matter how much English they speak or how accustomed they are to the culture. To me it’s really exciting to meet people from all over the world.”
Over on the other side of the US in Northwest Georgia, lies Kennesaw State University. Here, the Intensive English Language Program takes place at the institution’s main campus, preparing ESL students for university study in the US. The courses here caters for beginners right up to advanced speakers and are offered on a full- and part-time basis.
A truly comprehensive curricula is taught at the IEP, using the latest technologies and methodologies to promote student-centered learning. Sometimes this takes the form of campus and local activities designed to foster communication and cultural competence among students, while at other times it’s simply the friendly, open support of the teaching staff that makes the difference.
Cecilia Gallardo, from Mexico, spoke of her IEP experience: “My experience in IEP has been beyond my expectation. After the placement test, I felt challenged in every class during my first session. I was able to develop my skills, especially in listening and speaking. I enjoy IEP and definitely would choose it again.”
Based in City University of Seattle, the Washington Academy of Languages’ mission is to promote cross-cultural understanding through language instruction and teacher training. For those looking to follow their studies with a degree at a US university, the Academy offers an Intensive English Program for non-native English speakers looking to make big progress, fast.
The school aims to go further than simply teaching English. Here, staff seek to help students grow personally, professionally, and academically through teaching that places each individual at the heart of their activities.
There are options to suit everyone’s needs. For those who require flexibility and know they are self-disciplined, online courses are offered that can be completed in just 15 weeks. Popular with students from around the world is the summer intensive program that runs for five weeks through the warm summer months. Finally, the Academy also offers a mixed mode option which combines Saturday sessions with online lessons.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International