English Language Programs
The U.S.A. is one of the most popular countries for international students who wish to learn the English language or to develop their English language skills. Every year, approximately 57,000 international students go to the U.S.A. to improve their English language skills.
In the U.S.A., there are more than 400 educational institutions which offer English language programs. These programs vary from intensive English language programs or business English language programs to programs about American culture. The students who wish to learn the English language or develop their English language skills should decide which program is suitable for them after careful analysis.
The English language programs in the U.S.A. are offered at different levels. Some of the courses are for students with little or no English language skills while some are for students at advanced levels who wish to develop certain in-depth skills. Before starting a program students take a placement test which will determine the level of English language skills the student possesses. Some students may achieve faster progression while some may take more time, but you should give yourself enough time to reach your target level.
Below are brief descriptions of English Language Programs.
Intensive English Programs: These programs generally require 20 to 30 hour in-class instruction per week. During these courses, the students participate in small group discussions, go to language labs, and make presentations on various topics. The Intensive English Programs also allow students to follow regular academic courses. The majority of these programs are designed as pre-academic programs which prepare students to study at a university in the U.S.A.
American Culture Programs: These programs generally include courses for credit hours designed for students who plan on studying at U.S. universities. They often require intermediate or advanced levels of English and help students develop specific language skills such as reading, writing, grammar, etc.
Professional English Programs: Many private language courses and university English language programs are designed to meet the needs of professionals. In these programs, students develop their language skills and learn the terminology for their professions (i.e. Business, Law, Journalism, etc.)
Before applying to an institution for an English language program, check whether the institution is accredited or not. In the U.S.A. there are two accreditation institutions for English language programs: Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) and The Commission on English Language Program Accreditation(CEA). Pay attention to the fact that the English language program you choose is a member of University and College Intensive English Programs (UCIEP) or American Association of Intensive English Programs (AAIEP). These two institutions set the standards for English language programs in the U.S.A.
In addition to all these points, be careful about the cost of the program you are applying for. These programs may have costs other than tuition fees. These extra costs can be for accommodation, meals, books, and health insurance. Health insurance is compulsory for everyone who has a student visa.
There are also application fees for language schools. In your application packet, you need to have a receipt of the application fee, the application form, and a bank statement showing that you can pay the school fee and afford other expenses. If you are accepted to the language school, the school will send you an I-20 Form. This form will indicate that you will be a student of that school. After you receive this form, you can apply for an F-1 Visa at the U.S. Embassy or the Consulate. If you have a scholarship, the school will send you a DS-2019 Form and you will get a J-1 Visa.