Which English Exam is Right for You

student with big pencil122460598English may have originated in England but its impact can be felt well beyond that European island. Today the language of Shakespeare is spoken natively by more than 500 million people in countries as far from the British Isles as Australia, Canada, and South Africa and as a second language in places as diverse as São Paulo and Seoul by fully another half a billion more. If you are interested in studying English, you are not alone.

Still more people – some estimates place the exact figure at fully a quarter of the world’s population – use English occasionally for business or pleasure. Indeed, boardrooms from Belgium to Burundi are dominated not by French or Swahili but by English making English proficiency a highly-demanded professional skill. In addition to the direct business advantages such proficiency imparts, many of the world’s best colleges and universities are located in English-speaking countries and, to be eligible to attend them, international students must demonstrate their English proficiency by completing an English exam. As a result, at the dawn of the 21st century English exams have become a big business around the world.

Making sense of the various English exam options, however, can be confusing to say the least. Between the TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC, and MELAB – just to name a few – the sheer variety of English language exams on the market can be bewildering to the uninitiated. Making sense of this alphabet soup, however, is exactly our goal. In the coming weeks our multi-part series on English language exams will give aspiring students the inside track on which exam is right for them and why. Along the way we will, of course, discuss the big names we have already mentioned as well as some of the lesser-known exams that may better suit the unique needs of would-be test takers. After all, as is befitting its prominent place in international affairs, people need to prove their English proficiency for many reasons and, as we will see, there is an English exam out there to meet almost any need.

ELP In-Depth: Boston Academy of English

Boston Academy of EnglishNew York City and Boston are proudly distinct despite their closeness. In fact, as two of the greatest cities in the United States they are in competition with one another in many regards. From art to business and beyond, one need only consider baseball’s most famous rivalry – the seemingly timeless conflict between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox – to find ample proof of this good-natured feud. Thus it makes sense in this, the second in our multi-part series on English Language Programs in the United States and around the globe, that we at ESL Directory head north from New York to and examine, in its namesake jewel of New England, The Boston Academy of English.

Who should attend The Boston Academy of English?
The Boston Academy of English – or BAE for short – has a variety of English immersion programs for students of all ages. The school primarily works to provide a high quality English as a Second Language instructional service to adults by focusing on a variety of English language needs and skills. With programs of study that range from English immersion to business English – and classes that are divided into as many as eight levels – students with a variety of needs can benefit from their emphasis on building language proficiency, communicative competence, and American cultural awareness. Moreover, thanks to its Youth Summer Program even children study at BAE.

Where is the school located and where is housing?
BAE recently redesigned its downtown Boston facilities meaning that students not only have a variety of world class attractions at their doorstep but also easy access to all major subway lines and public transportation. At the same time, students enrolled in any of BAE’s English immersion programs can take advantage of its resources find a homestays, apartments, or even a spot in BAE’s own student residence hall.

When are classes held?
The BAE’s Intensive 20, 25, and 30 programs allow full-time students to choose the number of lessons they receive each week for as little as two weeks while its part time and weekend permit working professions to pursue their studies on Monday and Wednesday evenings and/or Saturday mornings for six weeks. New sessions begin year-round.

Finally, what makes the Boston Academy of English unique?
In addition to all of the above, BAE also offers two month TOEFL preparation courses, specialized au pair program, and even the option to develop a customized, 1-on-1 program of study. As a result, students really can accomplish anything with BAE!

Commonly Mistaken Words: What do you advise?

dv2037006Although good grammar is something that people take pride in, evidence suggests that there is a great deal more than just your pride on the line. Good grammar is used to evaluate – and separate – candidates from college entrance exams and admissions essays to job interviews and performance reviews. The written word, after all, is often the first thing someone sees about you so, as competition at all levels of the academic and professional ladder increases, it is more important than ever to stand out from the pack and make that first impression a great one. Here are a few ways to clear up the confusion about some commonly mistaken words so that you can do exactly that:


Though advice and advise are related in meaning, they are used (and pronounced) quite differently. First and foremost, remember that “advice” with a c rhymes with nice. That will help you remember that, because it is nice, it is also a noun and because it is a noun – a thing – it is something you can give. Thus, as a noun, advice means a suggestion or tip we can“give advice” (a thing) but, by contrast, would never “give advise” (a verb that rhymes with wise) because we can only give things not actions. Of course, if you want to “advise” someone feel free – because to “advise” is to suggest or propose.


Affect and effect is another commonly confused pair. Affect is always a verb which means to alter or change. By contrast, while effect can be either a noun or a verb, it is most commonly used as a noun which means consequences or result. For the sake of clarity then, it makes sense to start with effect because, as a noun (and therefore a thing), we can have one or many. This is the key to keeping it separated from its cousin. After all, you can have “many effects” – just like you can have many cups – but you could never have “many affects” in much the same way you could never have many reads.

In the end, though, we hope our advice will have a great effect on you – and your job prospects!

English Immersion Destinations

globe-157823756It should come as no surprise that English is the lingua franca – that is, unifying language – of the 21st century. It is, after all, one of the official languages of the United Nations, the European Union, and many other organizations around the world, as well as the common language of exchange in boardrooms and classrooms in places as varied as Brussels, Burundi, and Brunei.

Still, though it may be the most widely spoken second language in the world, it falls squarely behind Mandarin and Spanish as the third most common native language in the world. As a result, then, though English speakers are common (and English learners commoner still), there are relatively few places where students can learn English as it is used by native speakers. This is unfortunate because, while there may be relatively few places immerse oneself in English, such immersion remains the best way to learn the language. After all, even if the best language classes must eventually end, living in English immersion destinations can present a unique form of “extracurricular homework” – and, indeed, invaluable practice.

It is with this in mind, then, that we begin this series on English immersion destinations. In the weeks and months ahead we will try to explore some of the more useful (and interesting) English immersion destinations that are equipped to meet the needs of aspiring English speakers. Through the course of this series we hope to shed new light into even the most obvious immersion venues – English, after all, started in England, and so too will our tour – as well as some of the more off-the-beaten path – South Africa, anyone? – opportunities. In so doing we hope to show that the English immersion destinations that exist are every bit as rich and varied as the language itself!