English Study Abroad

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A Guide to Learning English Abroad

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to watch an episode of Friends without the subtitles? To just totally get the subtle humor of English-speaking television shows? What about the ability to use English to propel your career? As the third most commonly spoken language with over 1.5 BILLION people speaking it around the world, finding ESL English classes for adults can open new doors in your personal and professional life. So what’s holding you back? There are hundreds of intensive English courses available around the globe, so get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!


There are so many places where native English is spoken by locals – in fact, there are 50+ nations around the world that claim it as their first official language (with another 20+ more counting it as a second official language)! Simply think about your ideal learning abroad experience, close your eyes, point to the map, and pack your bags!

If you’re looking for a place to find an intensive English language program that will allow you to connect with nature, consider taking English courses in South Africa. Want to study English while having quick access to check out wild animals on safari? Consider programs in Cape Town which is located on the coast within a few hours drive of local national parks.

If the adventure-traveler in you also seeks to learn a bit of English, consider perfecting your language skills at an intensive English institute in New Zealand. The birthplace of commercial bungee jumping and well-known for its incredible skydiving opportunities, New Zealand is filled with chances to get your blood pumping! If you prefer the sea to the sky, check out English language programs in Auckland or Wellington to be close to some of the best scuba diving sites around.

Looking for more of the hustle and bustle of city living? Consider any number of intensive English classes across the United States. Whether you want quick access to celebs and surfing (Los Angeles), a cultural mecca at your fingertips (Chicago), or truly crave the city that never sleeps (New York), there are dozens of unique programs to choose from that all feature a wide range of courses and time frames to fit any budget.

English Language Programs

Once you’ve figured out exactly where in the world you’d like to perfect your English, you should consider the type of environment most suited to your needs. Regardless of where you’re headed, most intensive English language programs abroad feature Native language instructors, so the type of program you choose will really depend on how you learn best and your budget.

Just because you’re considering learning a new language abroad doesn’t mean it has to cost you an arm and a leg. Program costs vary greatly by location and program length. If you’re looking for ways to stretch your dollar (or pound or rand) consider searching for shorter, small-group learning experiences, potentially in less expensive locales such as India or Namibia.

If you’re someone who enjoys spending time with others and considers yourself an extrovert, small-group learning for your English intensive course may suit you just fine. Class sizes will typically range anywhere from five to twelve students and usually meet several times weekly. While some classes may only last an hour, others could stretch upwards of two or three hours. Be sure to consider this when selecting a program as not everyone’s attention spans can last that long!

If you’re seeking a more individualized experience and your instructor’s undivided attention, consider individualized instruction instead. Students looking to quickly increase their language skills can really benefit from these one-on-one sessions, which allow the instructor to mold their teachings to each individual student. More often than not, students who choose to enroll in these types of ESL English classes for adults  excel at a far greater pace than those enrolled in group learning programs (albeit these courses typically come with a higher price tag).

Tips for Gaining Fluency in English

If your ultimate goal is to master the English language, it’s definitely going to take time. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, there’s no magic shortcut for learning an entirely new language all at once!

If you’re looking to gain a basic understanding of the English language for an upcoming holiday, a few weeks of study with an intensive English course might do the trick. If you’re trying to completely master a new language, consider staying in country for a few months to really hone your skills.

Additionally, while mastery will take time, there are certainly some tips and tools to help you along your path towards fluency in a second (or third or fourth!) language.

You can learn quite a bit by just listening. Hearing native speakers converse with one another, regardless of the subject matter, helps to increase your understanding of the language by providing you with proper grammatical examples while you utilize contextual cues. So as you sip your tea at the local cafe, keep your ears open to the sounds of the waiter taking others’ drink orders and the hostess seating patrons – anything and everything can serve as a learning opportunity!

Along the same vein, when in conversation, remember that many times a key to the answer you seek will be in the question that’s asked of you. For example, if someone asks, “Would you like some cookies?”, realize that your answer will often mimic much of what was said to you. Your response may look like, “Yes, I would like some cookies” (because who doesn’t want cookies?). Through active listening, you can use cues from your conversation partner to build your English skills while also gaining confidence in your abilities — the perfect “value add” to an intensive English language program in another country.

Lastly and most importantly, practice, practice, practice! When immersing yourself in a new culture, utilize your English language skills as much as possible. This includes not only talking to anyone and everyone at your local farmer’s market and book store, but also trying your hand at reading the local newspapers and magazines and listening to local radio stations (which will serve the dual purpose of augmenting your skills and keeping you up-to-date on current events).

Benefits & Challenges

Due to the high volume of native and secondary English speakers, English is the main language of choice for many business transactions around the globe. If you’re not currently fluent, adding an intensive English course to your resume will do wonders for your personal marketing and can provide you with a good leg up when searching for your next job opportunity.

Not only will it help you in the business world, but learning at an intensive English institute can also be a key factor in helping you to connect with others whom you may never have had the chance to get to know. Due to its ubiquitous nature, it’s not uncommon to find people in all corners of the globe who speak English. In fact, you may find yourself meeting someone in Russia (or Peru or Malaysia...) and realizing that your only shared language is English. English really has the unique ability to open doors to communicating with people from all walks of life around the world.

On the flip side, learning through an intensive English course can come with frustrations. Many English learners lack confidence in their language abilities. Some of this can be attributed to English’s “irregular” grammar rules, which often require those studying the language to memorize a good deal of information. To add insult to injury, the large number of idioms, language-specific phrases that cannot be directly translated, can also confuse English learners and make it more difficult to truly become fluent.

Learning (or perfecting) your English language skills can boost your ability to land your dream job as well as to connect with millions across the world. If you’re looking for a way to immerse yourself in a new land, improve your analytical prowess through a second language, and gain a lifelong skill along the way, check out intensive English language programs abroad today!

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A Guide To
Learning English Abroad


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