COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT ESL IN CALIFORNIA
ESL schools and programs in all states of the USA are comparable in terms of how they are run, what they offer, etc. The information given below is therefore a general guide for students researching ESL schools and programs in the US, and has applicability to schools in each state. For the most current and specific details, students should also refer to individual state higher education agencies, as well as individual institutions.
What ESL options are available to international students studying in the USA?
ESL options available in the USA include business English, conversational English, English for academic purposes (EAP), English for the workplace, second-language teacher training programs, integrated programs and programs tailored for individual students. Online, on-campus, summer programs, spring break language camps and full-semester programs are further options.
What is the difference between taking an ESL course and an ESL program?
Courses are usually taken as part of a wider academic program in an educational institution, such as a secondary school, college, or university semester and have a single focus. Programs are usually made up of several courses and involve immersion or near-immersion study of English. However, the terms are often used interchangeably by certain schools.
How long will I have to study to become proficient in English?
How long it takes to gain proficiency in English will vary depending on your current skill level, dedication, personal knack or aptitude and the intensity of your course or program. Becoming proficient in English can take up to a year or longer.
How do I choose between a language school or the language program at a high school or college? What is the difference between these options?
Language schools offer only language instruction, and their curricula will be more focused and intense. Language schools offer programs that assume you are only studying English. High schools and colleges offer ESL courses and programs which are often designed to run parallel to--or prepare you for--your general academic studies.
How many students will there be in an ESL class in the US?
Class sizes can vary, but classes are usually less than twenty people.
Will my ESL program help me meet university language standards?
A properly accredited ESL program that is aimed towards the test your university requires will help you meet those standards. You should double-check any ESL program with your college's or university's requirements to make sure that it meets those standards.
Am I guaranteed to pass the standardized language tests after my ESL course?
No course or program can guarantee a pass on any test, but an accredited course with qualified teachers, combined with dedicated study on your part, will help you pass the language tests you need.
What is the difference between the different language tests? (PTE Academic, TOEFL, TOIEC, IELTS?)
All language tests are aimed at determining your level of English language proficiency. The different tests are administered by different authorities and may test slightly different skills. For instance, the TOEFL test is focused on the proficiency needed in daily life. Different tests may be required by different organizations.
Are there prerequisites for international students studying ESL in the USA?
Prerequisites will depend on what program you apply to. However, there are programs in the USA at every level, from the newest beginner to much more advanced students.
How are ESL programs in the USA accredited?
There are two main independent organizations which oversee the accreditation of ESL schools, programs and courses in the US. They are the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA), and the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), which specifically accredits Intensive English Programs (IEP). For more details, see our section on Accreditation of ESL Programs in the US.
What recognition do American ESL programs have world-wide?
Accredited ESL programs in the USA are recognized for their excellence world-wide.
What advantages do ESL programs in the USA offer international students?
English is the official language of the United States, and studying in the US therefore offers the chance to study and live in English, in a stable, welcoming environment and with the best programs available.
How are homestay families chosen?
Homestay programs screen families that apply to make sure that they have are the right place for a student to stay. Homestay programs may be independent, or they may be run in affiliation with your school.
If I live at the college, what are the rooms or dormitories like?
Dormitories will vary from college to college. You are likely to have a roommate or possibly several suitemates, and you may share a bathroom with either your suitemates or with your floor. There is usually a common-room with television and other facilities. Dormitories will always be kept clean and safe for students, and campus security makes sure they are safe.