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Confused about ESL Classes? Here’s What You Should Know!

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English is the universal language for much of the world. With people joining English-speaking colleges from all over the world, it’s no wonder why ESL classes are so popular. ESL classes, or English as a second language classes, are how non-native speakers can establish proficiency of the English language.

While immersion in a culture is certainly a way to learn a language, it can be limiting and take too much time to rely on alone. As such, many people who do not speak English as their first language will enroll in ESL classes to learn the language as well as possible.

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What are ESL Classes?

Most people have heard the phrases “ESL” or “English as a second language,” but they may struggle to answer, “What are ESL classes?”

In a nutshell, ESL, or English as second language classes, are programs where students learn the English language. They learn how to listen to English and understand it, as well as develop writing and speaking skills in the language.

Understanding a language and becoming proficient in its use is essential to living successfully in a culture. Imagine how difficult it would be to do even the mundane things like shopping, banking, paying bills, and navigating a transportation system if you couldn’t speak the language.

During an ESL class, students are engaged in a series of activities and exercises that act as building blocks. Step by step, non-English speakers apply the skills learned in previous classes to the challenges in each new session.

In the United States, the two most popular types of ESL classes are the Intensive English Programs (IEP) and American Language and Culture Programs (ALCP).

Intensive English Programs (IEP):

Students who participate in Intensive English Programs are not seeking academic credit and are attending for personal or professional reasons. IEPs are excellent bridge programs for non-English speakers who are looking to study at college, who want to improve their job prospects, or who want to assimilate better in their new country.

There are different levels of IEPs, and students will devote 20 to 30 hours a week to in-class learning. Outside of class, students are encouraged to seek out every opportunity to practice what they have learned in real-world situations.

American Language and Culture Programs (ALCP):

The ALCP program is designed for students who are studying at college or university and is for credit. ALCP classes are built into degree studies and are for students who have achieved intermediate or advanced English language proficiency in other types of ESL classes.

What Types of ESL Classes Exist?

Learning a new language is challenging, and English ranks among the tougher ones to learn. It has a mongrel vocabulary and spelling and grammar that can even confound native speakers. When you understand that people are of different ages, have different life experiences, and learn in a myriad of different ways, it’s clear why learning English can present quite a difficult journey.

However, ESL classes have evolved so that people of all ages and backgrounds can find the right experience. There are even ESL classes online!

What can you expect if you take English second language classes?

Kids and Teens

Many of these classes are offered for ESL kids as part of their school day. Certified teachers who are TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language) trained will assess each student’s English language comprehension as the first step.

Many schools have dedicated classrooms for TESOL educators who not only offer ESL classes but who tutor or teach other academic subjects. TESOL teachers are also called upon to assist their English language learners in their regular classrooms much like a teacher’s aide might help a student with other challenges.

Adult ESL Classes

Community colleges and continuing education departments are typically where you will find the most English second language classes. But many other organizations like churches, community centers, and cultural neighborhood centers will also offer ESL classes.

Like children and teens, adults will be asked to take an assessment test. This helps to ensure that each student joins a class that is at their level and this assessment goes a long way to reaching success. English is already challenging enough to learn and extra obstacles like being in the wrong class are a detriment.

These non-credit classes feature a wide variety of activities that help to enforce traditional book learning. Practice and real-world application reinforce what’s taught in the classroom.

Adults whose first language isn’t English and who are looking to pursue a college or university education are required to pass a test called TOEFL or Test of English as a Foreign Language. This determines English language proficiency and some classes are specifically designed to prepare prospective college students for the TOEFL.

College Students

Once college student has passed the TOEFL, they can move on to ESL classes that will grant them credits that can be applied towards an undergraduate or graduate degree. And like other courses, ESL classes online offer flexible learning opportunities!

Why Study ESL?

Living in a culture without being able to understand what’s being said or being unable communicate your wants and needs presents a dismal and isolating scenario. We all want to hear what others have to say and to be heard. And you can’t do that without speaking the language.

English proficiency means being able to communicate in the everyday world. It means having the ability to chat with your friends and family. It means being able to visit over the fence with a neighbor or understand what the pharmacist is saying to you. It means having the skills to navigate a world native speakers often take for granted.

Higher education is another reason to consider taking an ESL class. If you are thinking about pursuing a degree at college or university in the future, you will have to establish that you are proficient in the English language. That means that you should be considering ESL classes now to get ready for the TESOL.

And finally, earning more money and improving your quality of life is a terrific motivation for enrolling in ESL classes! Around the world, 1.5 billion people speak English either as a first or second language, and English continues to hold the top spot as the most common global business language. Being proficient in the English language will open doors for business and career advancement.

Final Thoughts

It’s amazing to comprehend the significant positive impact that can happen in a person’s life simply by enrolling in ESL classes. It opens doors to establishing ties with the community and it can launch people on a higher education journey.

An ESL class can also mean the difference between advancing in your career or staying stalled and watching your co-workers move up the corporate ladder.

If you’re thinking about taking an ESL class and becoming an English language learner, today is the day to enroll! Learn a new language, make new friends, and perhaps even nurture some business networks.