ELP In-Depth: ELS Language Centers

F32713_ELS_International_20Pathways_language_20centers_20_pms165_smallWith our discussion of the CSI ESL Academy, we highlighted their unique multi-campus structure. CSI is not alone in this approach, however –in fact, our next subject, ELS Language Centers, has more than 60 locations around the world. As a result, students can pursue their English-language education not only in the United States but also in Canada, Australia, and more.

Who should attend ELS Language Centers?
With over fifty years of English-education experience to call upon, ELS Language Centers offer something for everyone. Its propriety curriculum offers 12 different levels of instruction that enable students from the “Beginner” to “Master” level to polish their English proficiency skills. Moreover, with General, Academic, Junior, Executive, and Test Preparation programs to choose from, there is something for everyone at ELS.

Where is the school located and where is housing?
As noted above, there are more than 60 ELS Language Centers around the world. Many are located on or near university campuses and, as part of the collegiate experience, in some cases housing in residence halls and homestays can be arranged. Interested students should include all housing inquiries with their initial applications as availability is limited.

When are classes held?
Specific schedules vary by location and area of study. From intensive programs that run 30 hours a week to semi-intensive 20 hour sessions, the scheduling needs of most students can be easily accommodated. Most classes run Monday to Friday. At the same time, though many programs have monthly start dates a few are summer-only opportunities.

Finally, what makes the ELS Language Centers unique?
With so many locations, study options, and start dates available, ELS represents one of the premier language immersion opportunities on the market. Its experience has enabled them not only to offer a wide breadth and depth of services, however – it has also enabled them to develop one-of-a-kind curricula, textbooks, and language-learning software. With these resources – and ELS Language Centers themselves at your disposal – the sky’s the limit when it comes to English immersion!

>> Check out ELS Language Centers

English Exam Overviews: The MELAB

MELAB_logoEven if its acronym does not reveal its roots, the MELAB’s name – the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery – is proof enough that the exam, like the ECCE and ECPE, originated at the University of Michigan. While the exam is aimed at a broader range of skill levels than either, it nevertheless offers several unique features to its target audience: students interested in English-language higher education.

What is the MELAB and what makes it unique?
Though now administered by Cambridge Michigan Language Assessment, the exam – like its brethren – maintains its connection to its American origins by emphasizing the American conventions of spelling, grammar, and pronunciation. Moreover, almost unique among language exams, the MELAB is comprised of three parts that are mandatory and one that is optional. That is to say that while the writing, listening, and “grammar, cloze, vocabulary and reading comprehension” (GCVR) sections are required of all test-takers, candidates sit for the optional speaking test only if they so desire. As a result, the MELAB attempts to meet the varying needs of academic students.

How is the MELAB scored?
While both the listening, and “grammar, close, vocabulary and reading comprehension” (GCVR) sections are graded by way of multiple-choice questions, both the writing and (optional) speaking section are evaluated by trained examiners according to a pre-determined set of criteria. Part of the speaking test’s score is determined by the interviewer who administered the one-on-one speaking component.

Where can I take the exam and how do I register?
The MELAB is administered under tightly controlled security procedures in order to prevent fraud and otherwise preserver the integrity of the exam. As a result, test-takers must complete and submit a MELAB Official Identification Form prior to their test date. Moreover, as the speaking test is not offered at every test center but may not be taken separately, if you need to take the speaking component of the exam be sure to check that your test center offers it before registering. For more information about these and other details, see our MELAB exam overview.

Commonly Confused Words: A Little Goes A Long Way

illusion167592280From a phone call on your birthday to an extra point on your final exam, as we all know, sometimes it is the little things that make all of the difference. This is equally true in English spelling, where sometimes a single letter can completely change the meaning of a word. Fortunately, even if such mistakes are commonly confused words, they are also easy to fix.

While both are nouns – and pronounced in a way that makes them both rhyme with “dial” and “mile”, the removal of the “a” from aisle – which is the space between rows – transforms the work into isle – which is synonymous to island. Use this trick to help you remember: “aisles” are found in the grocery store while ‘isles” are found at sea.

Though both allusion and illusion are nouns, their pronunciations – and meanings – are quite difference. An allusion – pronounced “Uhllusion” – is an indirect reference while an illusion – pronounced “Illusion” – is a misleading or false idea. Allusions are often seen in literature while illusions pop up mostly in magic shows, so to help you remember, just remind yourself that even though they make look similar, any resemblance between allusion and illusion is exactly that – an illusion.

Though the difference between altar and alter does little to distinguish their pronunciation, the change of the second “a” to an “e” transforms a noun meaning a sacred place (altar) into a verb meaning to change (alter). A good memory trick – and idea in general! – would be to never alter an altar.

Though these three words look similar, they too have their own unique meanings and pronunciations. Accent, for example, is a noun that refers to the system pronunciation common to an area and is itself pronounced aKcent. Ascent, on the other hand, has a softer sound – aHscent – but, as a noun meaning the act of rising, is a more difficult activity. Assent, finally, has the same pronunciation as ascent but is a verb meaning to agree. It may be hard to keep these all straight but here is an illustrative example: “we all assent that as we continue the ascent up the mountain the native’s accents will be thicker.”

Though it make seem hard at first, a little practice will help you to mind your p’s and q’s (and all of the other letters, too!).

English Immersion Destinations: Learn English in New Zealand

new zealand91013085Why study English in New Zealand?
Though often overshadowed by its larger neighbor, Australia, the tranquil nation of New Zealand offers many surprises to would-be international students. For example, did you know that New Zealand is approximately the same size as Great Britain but has fewer than five million residents? This combination has led to a country that not only boasts spectacular scenery that ranges from sandy beaches and verdant rainforests to stunning mountains and modern cities but also some of the friendliest citizens in the English-speaking world. As a result, studying English in New Zealand offers the perfect pace of life for international students looking for a quiet, welcoming environment to improve their language skills.

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English Exam Overviews: The MET

imagesAlthough several of Cambridge Michigan Language Assessment’s English proficiency exams are targeted at students who are at the C1 or C2 (that is, advanced) level, the MET offers intermediate-level students a great alternative. More than that, it also presents them with an opportunity to take advantage of what makes this series of English exams unique.

What is the MET and what makes it unique?
As noted above, the MET, or Michigan English Test, is designed to meet the needs of intermediate level English as a second language students. As a result, it is calibrated to assess students ranging all the way from the A2 (basic) to C1(proficient) level. As this is by far the widest range among the Michigan array of exams – and given the fact that the exam also emphasizes the standards of American English – it makes the MET perfect for a variety of contexts. As a result, student interested in assessing the English proficiency for academic, professional, and social reasons can all benefit from the MET.

How is the MET scored?
The MET is actually two tests in one. The first, the “listening, reading, and grammar test” is a pen-and-paper test evaluated by way of 135 questions over two sections. The second, the MET Speaking Test, is comprised of structured, one-on-one interaction between an examiner and test-taker that is based around five specific tasks. Though only about ten minutes long, these tasks allow graders to evaluate a candidate’s fluency, accuracy, and clarity according to a predetermined set of standards.

Where can I take the exam and how do I register?
The MET is offered on specific dates at authorized test centers around the world. For a complete list of upcoming exams and their locations, visit the official MET registration page. For more details about the MET itself, however, be sure to check our comprehensive exam overview.