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ESL Study Programs:
Picking the Ideal School
Study Abroad: Is it Right for You?

Online Degrees: Advantages and Disadvantages

Culture Shock: Adjusting to a New Environment

Online ESL Study: Preparing Before You Go?

ESL Study Programs: Picking the Ideal School

Scholarships: Do I Qualify?

TOEFL Preparation: How and Why?

Homestay: What Can I Expect?

International Health Insurance: Do I Really Need It?

Culture Shock 2: Returning Home


With thousands of ESL Programs spread out around the world, students often have a difficult time identifying the ideal program for them. A number of factors that students ought to consider include (but not limited to) location, program curricula, experience and background of instructors, facilities, school accreditation, class makeup, and price. As you notice, I didn't list price as the first consideration. Here are my suggestions:

First, find a program that will help you reach your goals, whether they be for business, entrance to a university, or pleasure. Look over the program's Website and see if you can find a mission statement, which should reveal the program's own goals. Ask for a copy of a class syllabus to see what will be covered in the class. Talk to current or former students to see what their experiences were like. Second, look into the teachers' qualifications to see not only how long they have been teaching, but also what experiences they have had working with international students in different settings. Do the teachers have experience working overseas? If so, they might have a better understanding of the educational backgrounds of their students. Do they speak another language? If so, they might be able to give you sound advice on what strategies work best for picking up a second language from their own experience.

Third, find out if the program has been accredited by a regional or national organization. Accreditation means that the school's program has been reviewed and evaluated as one worthy of high standards of excellence.

Forth, ask about the student makeup of the program. How many nationalities are represented in the classes? A broad mix of students will give you a variety of opportunities to speak English and learn about other foreign cultures. However, even if there are students who speak your language, you can still have a very positive experience, especially if the teacher encourages the use of English in class. However, don't choose a program solely based on classroom makeup. Remember that you will only be in class a few hours a day, so you'll actually have more time outside of class to interact with people in the community, so THAT is your real classroom.

Fifth, (Okay, you wanted to hear it . . .) Compare the prices of programs in the area you want to live. Just remember that price is not the best indicator of a program's quality, and keep in mind that better and more experienced instructors are often paid more, and thus, the tuition reflects this. Also, the school might provide good computer, recreational, and educational facilities that can contribute to a good learning atmosphere, and thus, this can be added to your tuition cost. From my experience, you get what you pay for.

Randall's articles on this site reflect his own personal perspectives and opinions, and these ideas do not constitute an endorsement for any specific organization or Website.

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Notice the rising intonation patterns on yes/no questions and the falling intonation on wh-questions (e.g., why, how, where, when, who).

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