University Prepby Robyn Tellefsen
Are you getting ready to pursue higher ed in the USA? First things first: if you want to study at an English-speaking university, you'll need a good grasp of the English language. Fortunately, ESL transition programs for international students abound. Here's what you can expect from an ESL program designed to ease your entry into an American university.
Getting Started in an ESL Transition Program
ESL programs - also known as ESL transition programs, ESL bridge programs, and ESL pathway programs - combine ESL instruction with a variety of support services and opportunities for cultural integration.
Some ESL programs require TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores for entry; others do not. ESL programs may offer instruction at various levels, including beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Comprehensive ESL bridge programs generally allow you to mix ESL and undergraduate-level classes. This way, you can earn college credits while you're improving your English proficiency. Note, however, that intermediate or advanced ESL courses may be the only ones that confer college credit. Check with your school to determine which ESL courses are credit-bearing and which are not.
Some ESL programs combine a preparation year with the first year of a bachelor's degree program, saving you time and money. Courses outside your ESL program may even be specifically structured for international students.
A hallmark of ESL transition programs is small classes that offer individual attention and tremendous opportunities for language practice. Conversation clubs improve English fluency; some conversation programs involve one-on-one conversation practice with American students. Conversing with native English speakers is one of the most effective ways to increase your ESL proficiency and learn to speak American English with confidence.
ESL bridge programs will also help you strengthen the reading and writing skills you'll need to successfully understand college texts and write college-level papers. You will receive grammar help as well as specialized academic vocabulary instruction.
Many programs offer ESL computer labs, with computer-assisted language learning programs incorporated into the curriculum. In addition, study guides, writing workshops, pronunciation tutoring, note-taking assistance, and extended-time testing may all be available through your ESL pathway program.
ESL Program Support
The beauty of an ESL transition program lies in its unique support services. A one-on-one ESL advisor can assist you with completing paperwork, selecting courses, and creating an individual learning plan. As a result of small class sizes, professors can more closely monitor your progress to make sure you don't get lost in the university system. Individualized counseling and progress reporting ensure maximum success in the program. All of this prepares you to become immersed in full-time, English-only academics.
Plus, you will have a core group of international students to lean on as you adapt to a new country and a new culture. In an ESL bridge program, the cross-cultural instruction and discussion help minimize the effects of culture shock so that you can integrate into American university life more quickly and more effectively.
Now that you've decided to go to school in the U.S., you want to be able to finish what you've started. With the help of ESL transition programs, you will acquire the tools you need to succeed in an American university and beyond.