a foreign language is easier for some people than others. Whether
learning another language is comparatively easy or difficult
for you, your goals and attitude about improving your English
have a strong effect. If you are determined to use your United
States experience to improve your English, and you make a conscious
effort to do so, improvement is more likely.
There are many approaches to improving your English while
you are in the United States. Of course you can use more than
one of them.
Formal ESL (English-as- a-second-language) classes are available at many colleges and universities to help non-native speakers improve their command of English. These programs provide a variety of courses (such as grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, writing, and conversation) at a variety of levels (such as beginning, intermediate, and advanced). Some also offer “English for special purposes” classes, which focus on English as used in specific subject-matter areas such as business, science, or engineering.
In general, ESL courses aim to prepare students for real-life experience in American classrooms, laboratories, workplaces, and communities.
ESL programs might also have offerings for prospective teaching assistants and for graduate students at work on theses or dissertations.
These programs may also organize events and activities such as conversation partners and trips, and may be able to provide tutors for individualized instruction.
You can find information about ESL offerings at your school on the school’s web site, if the school has not already sent it to you.
Tutors working with one or two students can offer individualized assistance to students at all levels.
Informal ESL conversation groups can provide helpful opportunities to discuss topics of mutual interest in a comfortable setting. Conversation groups are sometimes organized by international student offices, English-language centers, academic departments, churches, spouse organizations, and public libraries. Or, students can form their own groups.
Mass media can help in some ways. Television,
radio, newspapers, and magazines can expose you to everyday
English and give you
information on topics you can discuss with other people—news
events, social trends, athletic contests, and so on.
is an organization devoted to the improvement of public speaking.
Chinese and other college and university students in the United
States have found Toastmasters to be an excellent avenue not
just to improving their English but to developing the self-confidence
necessary for success in their professional lives.
Do-it-yourself English improvement is
probably the most accessible form of English-language practice
to foreign students. But it requires some determination, mental
preparations and actions such as preparing
some conversation topics, locating
people to talk to, approaching
people you can talk