The Advantages of ESL Immersion Programs

Boy diving into water 168842763Learning a language can be difficult and boring textbooks rarely improve the situation. After all, even the best textbook is exactly that – a book – and no substitute for a conversation partner or native teacher. So what can you do to liven things up when your access to the real thing is limited? Sure, movies, music, and books can help bridge the divide but the real answer lies with immersion programs.

What are ESL immersion programs?
ESL immersion programs are a language learning device in which a learner is fully immersed in the target language for a certain period. The process is considered “immersive” because when language coursework is delivered in English the target language becomes both the subject and the means instruction. While immersion programs can take place anywhere, most experts believe that the best ESL immersion experiences take place is true English-speaking environments.

Why go abroad?
Think of it as the ultimate educational getaway. Although considerably more expensive than domestic options, international ESL immersion programs offer numerous advantages. Because English is being spoken both inside and outside of class, students have more opportunities to practice their speaking and listening skills. Plus, these opportunities are not only more numerous but also more realistic: immersion students have the chance to hear the language as it is really spoken by native speakers.  In this way students can learn from their teachers as well as their environment. Every step from watching television or catching the bus can potentially become a learning experience. Plus – and this part is crucial – living in an English-speaking environment is different from studying. By living instead of studying you are less likely to be over-corrected – shop clerks are not teachers, after all – and, as a result, build your confidence. And, as any language student knows, confidence is the key to conversational English. So what are you waiting for?

Take a look online and see if you can find an immersion program that suits your needs. Once you go you will be glad you did!

Business Idioms You Can Bank On

Work life balance choices 462450933In the minds of many the words big business and banking are nearly synonymous and it is little wonder why. The fact that biggest players in the recent Global Recession were banks did not go unnoticed by many, it seems. Along with this preeminence in the business world, however, comes not just a reputation but also a good number of idioms. Here are a few of our favorites:

Banker’s Hours – limited work hours

  • Banks are not the only businesses that keep banker’s hours – many small businesses do the same in order to keep a work-life balance.

Note: As the above example shows, banker’s hours are not limited to their namesake profession but can be applied to any business which keeps limited operating hours (typically from around 9am to 5pm on weekdays). Continue reading “Business Idioms You Can Bank On”

Make a Break For Greatness! – Phrasal Verbs

Thief 470517045As any student of English – or regular reader of our phrasal verbs blog series – can tell you, one of the most interesting things about phrasal verbs is their sheer abundance. As the following examples with break prove, although a set of almost identical phrasal verbs can seem overwhelming at first, practice – and context – can help!

Break For – to move quickly toward

  • In an effort to free himself from his captors the hero made a break for the exit when they weren’t looking.

Note: As in the above example, this phrasal verb is often combined with “make a” to create the larger expression “make a break for”.

Break Through / – to pass through a barrier or obstacle by force

  • The crowd at the concert was so thick that Tammy had to break through a big line of people to make her way to the bathrooms.

Continue reading “Make a Break For Greatness! – Phrasal Verbs”

New ESL MOOC offered by British Council

179151975The British Council, one of the oldest and most respected names in English as a Second Language education, has announced that it will partner with online course provider FutureLearn to develop a Massive Open Online Classes (MOOCs) designed to teach English to non-native speakers. While such an announcement may at first glance seem surprising, further examination reveals how this development fits into the now 80-year-old organization’s continuing mission to promote intercultural relations and educational opportunities between the United Kingdom’ and the rest of the world.

The fact that educational heavyweights like Yale University now provide content to the world’s leading MOOC provider, US-based Coursera (which itself has raised $85 million in capital from investors in order to further its digital efforts) reveals that MOOCs are becoming an increasingly important part of the educational landscape. Nevertheless this marks the first time that a major MOOC provider will offer language courses.

Continuing Its Mission
What, then, does the British Council hope to gain from its efforts? Well, in a nutshell it sees ESL MOOCs as a way to further its ongoing efforts to attract ­international students to ­universities in the United Kingdom. It believes that ESL MOOCs can directly reinforce the British Council’s existing efforts to help non-native English speakers prepare for the rigors of English-language higher education. Such preparation courses are a natural fit with its existing the International English Language ­Testing System [IELTS]  assessments, an exam which it co-owns with the Australian-based IDP Education and is already offered at British Council testing centers around the world. Proof of this plan can be found in the simple fact that the two UK-based organizations announced their partnership in India. In this light the news, though exciting, can be seen as an integral part of the British Council’s existing student readiness and recruitment process.