So, you’ve decided to study English in the United States – how do you decide what type of program you want to attend?
Before you begin the process of choosing the right English program for you, you should determine what type of program will suit your goals and objectives. Are you preparing for academic studies in the United States? Are you preparing for using English in your job? Do you just want to have a great experience in America and learn some English as a special bonus?
You will want to use these and other questions to determine what type of program will provide the resources for you to best achieve your English learning goals.
Once you have determined your language goals, you will be able to choose the type of English program which will suit those goals. Intensive English Programs can very broadly be divided into three types: general English and Culture programs, English for Academic Purposes (EAP), and English for Specific Purposes (ESP).
English & Culture Programs
Programs of this type help to prepare students to gain English and understand American culture. This type of program tries not to focus specifically on one type of English, such as English for airline pilots, but will bring in all types of American English language and American culture. Students in this general English type of program may be planning to study in an American college or university or they may be planning to work in an English environment or they may want to learn English for personal reasons.
English for Academic Purposes
Programs of this type help to prepare students for academic studies in universities and colleges in the United States. These programs may focus on skills that will help students to be successful in university courses. Students learn to write academic papers, take lecture notes, learn the culture of the university, and prepare for exams. These programs often provide courses in preparing for required tests such as the TOEFL, GRE, and /or the GMAT.
English for Specific Purposes
Programs of this type are often developed on a needs basis. An English program may be contacted by a government agency or a large company or a university abroad and asked to develop a program to meet a specific need. A program of this type may be developed for bankers from Brazil, English teachers from Russia, students who will be entering graduate programs across the United States, or students who will be Teaching Assistants while they study for their Masters or PhD degree. These types of programs are usually more focused on the specific skills necessary for the students to be successful in these defined contexts.
Most large university-based Intensive English Programs (IEPs) will have EAP, ESP, and general Language and Culture programs within their overall program. Many, if not most, small IEPs will have EAP focused programs that feed directly to the college or university from which they are based. So you may find that you can meet your language goals at nearly any IEP.
Now that you have chosen the type of program that best fits you, the other questions you will want to research are location, climate, student services, average size of the classes, costs of the program, and living expenses. Good luck!
Provided by Mark Porter, Associate Director of English Programs for Internationals at the University of South Carolina.