Photo: ESL Resources
There are many reasons to learn English.
Many consider learning English to be the key to economic success and a way to fully participate in civic life in the United States. It’s also a requirement for some immigrants who aspire to become naturalized citizens, as they must demonstrate a basic level of English.
Of course, the benefits of speaking English go beyond borders. English is a global language that is used in many countries, industries and professions, regardless of whether the person lives in the United States.
One way to learn English is to take advantage of the resources the government has to offer.
Learn English in a classroom
Each state, county and city has its own programs and resources to support aspiring English speakers. If you are interested in learning English, be sure to look for adult classes or English as a Second Language (ESL) courses in the following places:
• Your children’s school. Many schools offer classes for working adults.
• Community colleges or junior colleges.
• Non-profit organizations and local community centers.
The Department of Education provides a page where you can find links to public and private organizations that offer some of these classes in your community.
You can also visit America’s Literacy Directory, a non-profit organization where you can find schools that have civics, citizenship, reading and writing classes.
Learn English online
A great way to learn English for free and on your own schedule is by going to USALearns.org. The site conceived by the Department of Education provides interactive lessons for beginner, intermediate and advanced students. The program uses text, audio and video to explore a variety of situations where the user can learn through examples. The program seeks to enrich students’ vocabulary by introducing new words in each lesson.
When registering, students can save their progress and advance to the next lesson when they are ready.
Learning English as a student in the United States
Some people come to the United States just to learn English. Visitors can enroll in courses even if they have a tourist visa as long as it’s a short course of less than 18 hours per week. Students who want to take longer courses need to get a student visa, which they may apply for from abroad through U.S. embassies and consulates.
Students seeking advanced degrees in the United States, such as a masters or PhD, may have to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), to assess their English proficiency. Students who got their college degree abroad from an accredited college in the United States may be exempt.