Living With a Host Family

Living with a host family is a once in a lifetime, inspirational opportunity. I know, because I was lucky enough to spend my summer with a host family that soon became my family! It all started when I decided that I wanted to go abroad and learn a second language. Only having a basic understanding, I knew that I would not only have to learn a new language, but a new culture too.

After arriving, I was greeted by my host family who gave me the grand tour. I would be spending 3 months with my new family and I was excited to be introduced. While my communication was limited, we both welcomed one another into each other’s lives – primarily with hand gestures and slow over-pronounced speech. I was hoping that my language classes during the day would help with the language barrier that was obviously present during any interaction.

As nervous as I was, the family was patient and understanding. Day by day, what I learned in class I was able to apply. We ate breakfast and dinner together and I began to understand more and more of what they said. They were the patient kind; the one that would give me the space to try to put the words together to make a coherent sentence. By my side, I had a list of vocabulary list that grew pages and pages longer, day by day.

Over the course of my time there, as my language skills improved, so did the close ties and bonds that we had formed as a family. Celebrating birthdays, family reunions, holidays, new cars, and much, much more! I heard about their day, shared my day, and soon became well adjusted to our weekly schedule. I met the couple’s parents, nieces, nephews, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers. We all ate dinner together once a week as their house became chaotic with people running around, chatting, and fully accepting me as part of the family.

Now, 4 years later, I am still in contact with my family. We send messages back and forth to share the events that happen in our lives and I am even planning to travel back to visit! Living with a host family was not only an amazing experience, but created a lifetime bond that we’ll never forget.

Did you have an experience where you were living with a host family? What was your experience like?


Preparing for the Student Visa Interview

F-1 Student VisaOne of the most difficult steps before going overseas to study English is obtaining your visa. While the paperwork may be time consuming, it is well worth the effort! Many international students coming to the US to study English have to interview at the embassy or consulate before obtaining their F-1 student visa. While many students can be nervous about the interview process, all you need to do is start preparing for the student visa interview a few weeks before your schedule appointment and you should have no problem!

Think about it. The entire interview is only lasts a few minutes and as long as you review sample questions for the F-1 student visa interview then you will know what type of questions to expect. Dress nicely, put on a big smile, and be prepared to answer questions about your background and goals. The most important aspect to consider is that you show that you have ties to your community and that you fully anticipate returning home. We have put together tips on how to begin preparing for the student visa interview designed to help you succeed and make your dream of learning English a reality.

For all of our readers, have you successfully completed your student visa interview? Let us know how you spent your time preparing for the student visa interview and if you have any suggestion.


Study English Abroad

So you’ve decided that you want to study English overseas? If so, then you may find the latest findings by Forbes interesting – they have found the friendliest countries in the world!

Friendliness was determined based on questions asked by HSBC Bank International regarding expatriate experiences living in their host country. Information was collected from expatriates living in different countries around the world which were then compared internationally to determine the “friendliness” of each country.

Here are the top four friendliest nations ranked (where #1 is the friendliest nation):

1. Canada
2. Bermuda
3. South Africa
4. United States

So you may be asking yourself, “why does this matter to me?”

If you are planning to study English abroad, you will notice that these top four nations are all English-speaking and good places to study in if you are trying to decide where to learn English.

If you are planning to study English abroad, then there are many factors that will contribute to a successful experience. Being able integrate with the locals and speak on a daily basis is critical to your ability to learn English. In determining the friendliness of each country, statistics were based on if you can befriend the locals, learn the language, and integrate into the new culture and community. These are all important factors in determining a successful trip to while you learn English is South Africa or learn English in the United States.

Have you studied English abroad, let us know how your experience has been!


How to Choose your ESL School

Are you interested in spending your summer overseas improving your English at an ESL school? When you begin to do your research, you may realize that there are English language schools around the world. Don’t be overwhelmed! Let us help you and give you some tips on how do you choose your ESL school?

  • Talk to people. Do you have a friend or family member that has studied at an ESL school? Ask them about their experience! What did they like about it, what did they dislike about it, what do they think their visit was missing?
  • Look at your budget. How much are you looking to spend? If you are planning to live in a big city, can you afford the cost of participating in the activities? Will you have to use public transportation daily? Remember – living in a large city can usually be more expensive, however, everything may be more accessible and at your fingertips!
  • Surf the Web. That’s right, many schools and programs are right online and take only a few minutes to locate. Compare programs to see what is and is not offered. Then, pull up reviews on that program – perhaps you may even be able to get in contact with an alumni!
  • Ask Questions. Once you have narrowed down your search, now it’s time to get in touch with the school and get a better idea of what to expect. We’ve put together a list of questions to ask your ESL school to make the process easier.

Have you studied abroad at an ESL school? Do you have any advice you’d like to share with our readers? Let us know how your experience was and what you’d recommend to look for!


China Learns English

Did you know that the United State’s second largest trade partner is China (after Canada)? In fact, the United States traded $457 billion US dollars in 2010! This means that companies in the US and China are negotiating, making deals, and coordinating the transactions directly. The majority of this business is conducted in English – so you would imagine that China would rank high in its English language proficiency!

According to English First BV and GlobalEnglish Corp., both independent agencies, found that China is still improving their proficiency to be able to converse easily at a business English level. According to English First BV’s grading, China was ranked 29 out of 44 countries in their speaking ability. As those of you who speak multiple languages – I’m sure you can realize that learning English from Chinese can be quite difficult – there is a different syntax, conjugations, expressions, intonations, pronunciation, and alphabet for starters!

In China’s defense, the British Council found that China is increasing in the number of English speakers. They predict that China will overtake India – a former British colony – in the number of English speakers and that both countries will have the highest number of fluent English speakers in Asia.

Many Chinese travel to an English-speaking country to improve their proficiency. As China sends individuals to learn English, many students prefer to learn business English. By concentrating on business English, you will be able to improve your English and learn key industry vocabulary.

As you can see based on these statistics, mastering English in China can set you a part from other individuals and make you competitive in the job market. This is one of the many reasons why you should learn English!