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!

Homeland Security Cracks Down on Language School Fraud

Comic Strip Speech Bubbles 186534519Agents from the Department of Homeland Security raided a career institute’s offices and arrested five of its administrators as part of their ongoing efforts to target student visa fraud throughout the country. The resulting charges – which include both visa and financial fraud – could put the five alleged collaborators behind bars for as long as 20 years. At the same time, international students at the Micropower Career Institute‘s five campuses across two states find themselves in the middle of a very messy situation.

The Charges

According to authorities, the school and its officials conducted an elaborate charade in order to collect federal education money from otherwise ineligible English as a Second Language students. To do this, the schools’ five principal administrators – all connected to one another by birth or marriage – portrayed their schools as legitimate language schools where international students carried full course loads. In actuality, however, most of the English as a Second Language students enrolled at the school did not attend the majority of their classes.* To elude suspicion – and continue collecting the approximately $10,000 in annual tuition each student received – administrators would transfer students with poor attendance from one school to an another by creating an elaborate paper trail that, heretofore, had avoided detection. At the same time, school officials also faked or otherwise manipulated documents in order to hide the fact tat both they and their students were not complying with the Department of Education’s regulations regarding the financial aid it offers to low-income post-high school students.  Though it is hard to imagine that the school’s students were unaware of such widespread fraud they, too, will have to deal with the fallout of this investigation in their own way.

* Students who are granted F-1 student visas are eligible to remain in the US as long as they are pursuing full courses of study and attend 80% of their classes (or at least 18 hours of classes a week) at approved schools. Failure to do so is may result in the early termination of a student’s visa.


Online Learning on digital background 459519949In just a few short years, Massive Open Online Courses – or, as they are more commonly known, MOOCs – have gone from a novelty teaching tool to a possible education game changer. While it is still early days yet there can be no doubt that MOOCs will have a lasting impact on the education landscape of the future. The principle is simple – offer high-quality classes online to students anywhere around the globe at a fraction of the price of tradition university courses – and the implications enormous.

The Implications
By their very nature MOOCs effectively work to eliminate the geographical, social, and/or financial constraints that have, heretofore, limited access to higher education. This is especially true for language learners. ESL MOOCs are not only cheaper but, because of their inherent online structure, offer immensely more flexibility than traditional language training. Though often taught by university faculty, video replays of individual lectures can be viewed at any time of the day or night and, in many cases, students can enroll in the courses themselves at any time. MOOCs not only free students from the fixity that defines the Spring, Summer, Fall semester start dates but also make it possible for students to spend more time studying and less time commuting. Continue reading “ESL MOOCs  “

Ireland Student Visa

IRELAND160498144Why study English in Ireland?
Though small in size, Ireland enjoys a world-renowned reputation. With it storied past, vibrant culture, and dynamic future, it truly has something to offer everyone. Such allure makes the fact that relatively few international students – a mere 32,000 in 2010 – study in Ireland all that more surprising. Their loss, however, can be your gain. Indeed, Ireland may be the best-kept secret in international higher education. After all, not only was Dublin was listed by Quacquarelli Symonds as one of the top ten cities in the world to be a student but also the International Student Barometer Survey  – another important metric of student satisfaction – ranked Ireland ahead of all other English-speaking countries as well as Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Where can I study?
Ireland may be small but its bustling, modern cities are home to some of the most famous universities in the world. Not only are three – Trinity College, University College (Dublin), and University College (Cork) – among the world’s 200 best but these flagship colleges also serve as an inspiration model for the country’s many other centers of higher education. Moreover, the country’s reputation for hospitality extends well beyond the walls of higher education – the country boasts a number of public and private English language schools to choose from.

What are the Ireland student visa regulations like?
Best of all, recent changes to the Irish student visa policy make studying English in Ireland easier than ever. Not only are students from the European Union, European Economic Area, and Switzerland except from student visa requirements (as Ireland is itself a member of the EU/EEA), but students from many other countries are able to study in Ireland on a standard tourist visa.* For those interested in a longer course of study, obtaining an Ireland student visa means obtaining a “D” visa. For more information on this process, see our information page on Ireland Student Visas.

* For more information on this policy change please see the INIS briefing here.

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 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.

Continue reading “English Immersion Destinations: Learn English in New Zealand”

ELP In-Depth: The English Language Program at the University of Texas at Austin

Large_university-of-texas_seal_rgb(199-91-18)In our last case study of English Immersion Programs in the United States we at ESLDirectory discussed Sacred Heart University’s English Language Institute and paid particular attention to its quiet but imminently-accessible location. The University of Texas at Austin, too, provides a similar mixture of quintessentially American experiences while at the same time provides a variety of quality English language education options.

Who should attend The English Language Program at the University of Texas at Austin?
The ELP at UT, as it is commonly known, is ideal for students from a wide variety of backgrounds.  The ELP offers seven levels of instruction designed to help students from the beginner to advanced level improve their English for school, business, or pleasure. Moreover, both full time (“Intensive”) and part-time options exist to meet the scheduling needs of a wide variety of students. In addition to general English immersion, however, post-graduate students in particular stand to benefit considerably from its advanced Academic English Program.

Where is the school located and where is housing?
The English Language Program at the University of Texas at Austin is, as the name suggests, located in Austin, Texas. Though Austin serves at the state’s capital it nevertheless retains a small-town,  if urbane feel. As a result students can look forward to taking advantage of the raw beauty that epitomizes Texas while also enjoying the kinds of amenities only a world-class city can provide. Best of all, the ESL Services department at UT offers a comprehensive student handbook  to provide students with the resources necessary to successful secure housing in the city.

When are classes held?
For full-time students, core ELP courses – which cover topics such as writing, reading, listening, speaking, grammar, and idioms – meet five days a week for a total of 18 hours weekly. Those interested in part-time study, however, may register for as many (or as few) of the core courses as their schedules permit and in so doing build a schedule that better suits their needs.

Finally, what makes The English Language Program at the University of Texas at Austin unique?
The ELP at UT offers an idyllic combination of academic and immersion possibilities. Not only does the school have a wide variety of English education options and a commitment to small classes, but also the city of Austin itself represents a great place to explore the United States. In addition to the cities natural beauty, it is also widely known as the “Live Music Capital of the World”. Which means that studying English at The University of Texas at Austin can – both literally and figuratively – be music to your ears.

English Immersion Destinations: Learn English in South Africa

south africa158795225Why study English in South Africa?
Though South Africa occupies only 4% of its namesake continent’s total landmass, it has a political and economic power that far surpasses its relatively small footprint. Not that one should call a country five times the size of Great Britain small! Indeed, this dynamic country of more than 40 million people possesses a population and geography as diverse as any on earth. Flanked by both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and containing a number of stunning savannahs, deserts, and mountain ranges, the vibrancy of its landscapes is rivaled only by that of its economy. All this, combined the prominent status the English language enjoys as the country’s official language, more makes studying English in South Africa a one-of-a-kind proposition.

Where can I study?
Better still, there are a wide range of both public and private English-immersion programs available throughout the country. From cosmopolitan Cape Town and quaint Port Elizabeth to modern Durban and laid-back Jeffrey’s Bay, there are enough options available to meet the immersion needs of students from all walks of life. Plus, given the fact that several of its universities – including, among others, the University of Cape Town – rank among the world’s top 500 universities, studying English in South Africa may prove to be the first step in the path of English-language higher education.

What are the South African student visa regulations like?
While South Africa offers a number of short term visitor visas to foreign nationals of other countries, prospective students must apply for a South Africa Student Visa in their home country before leaving for South Africa. This is because Sout  African visa regulations do not allow applicants to change their visa status without without returning to their home country. Fortunately for international students over the age of 16, applying from home is easy. The student visa application process merely requires language that students apply (and be accepted by) a language school prior to submitting their visa application. With that acceptance they can apply directly at their local South African consulate and begin their English immersion adventure! If you are ready to learn more, don’t forget to check out our Student Visas for South Africa resource.

ELP In-Depth: Sacred Heart University English Language Institute

SacredHeartPioneersLOGO1Thus far in our series on English Language Programs in the United States and around the globe we have looked at programs in two of the country’s most dynamic cities – New York City and Boston – and another – in West Virginia – that puts the more laidback lifestyle of small town American on display. As important as these two perspectives are, we at ESL Directory are pleased to report that still more options exist between these two extremes. As the following case study will demonstrate, Sacred Heart University’s English Language Institute is an excellent example of an English Language Program that combines the best of both.

Who should attend Sacred Heart University English Language Institute?
Sacred Heart’s ELI, as it is more widely known, has programs for a wide variety of students. In addition to a full-time immersion option, those with more limited availability will find the school’s part-time and evening courses ideal. These courses are designed to allow students to improve their TOEFL, Business Writing, and other skills at on a more flexible schedule. Better still, the Sacred Heart ELI also offers a specialized courses on Medical Interpretation and can provide customized courses on other aspects of English language education over the summer. Continue reading “ELP In-Depth: Sacred Heart University English Language Institute”

English Immersion Destinations: Study English in Australia

australia164473953Why study English in Australia?
Given the fact that Australia is the world’s third most popular destination for international students – trailing on the United States and United Kingdom – it is safe to say that the secret is out about studying in Australia. Still, what makes a country of only 23 million so attractive to so many? Well, first there is the outback itself. From the Great Barrier Reef to the Great Sandy Desert – and a whole host of climates in between – Australia offers something for everyone. Not that pristine beaches and scenic National Parks are its only draw. Though cities like Sydney and Melbourne are compelling, world-class destinations in their own right, their relatively small sizes make them easy places to feel comfortable. As a result they make ideal places to explore both Australian culture and the English language.

Where can I study?
Plus, its colleges and universities are as attractive as the cities that house them, In fact, according to the The World University Rankings, Australia is home to five of the 100 best universities in the world. Not that these five are outliers: strong government support has provided Australia with the eighth best system of higher education in the world. Moreover, unlike some of the other big names – such as Germany and Japan – that it beat out, a wide variety of scholarship opportunities makes it more affordable than ever to study in Australia. Continue reading “English Immersion Destinations: Study English in Australia”