How to learn English in the USA - ForumDaily
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How to learn English in the USA

Fluent English is a prerequisite for a successful career and easy adaptation in the USA for all visitors. Those who can not boast of fluent English speech and a rich vocabulary, but want to feel their own in the United States, one thing remains - to learn the language. There are many opportunities for this - and most of them are free. “Forum” has prepared an instruction manual for learning English for people with different levels of language proficiency.

Where to start

First of all, you need to decide on your level of knowledge of the language and budget. Tests can be taken in schools for adults, colleges or universities.

A big plus for immigrants is “English as a second language” (“English as a second language” (ESL) for the most part is free. Besides, you can start learning even before you receive a green card.

However, if you want to attend specialized courses at a college or university, then you will have to pay for it. In some cases, the amount of payment will depend on whether you have resident status or not. For non-residents, the cost of education may be several times higher.

Language proficiency: low

You know just a few phrases, everything is incomprehensible to you, interaction with the outside world requires great courage. Do not worry, because the main thing is not how much you know the language, but how much you want to communicate. You can study at schools for adults, meet at city centers and public libraries, and even take classes at the school where your child studies.

Adult schools

More suitable for those who do not work. In addition, they are convenient for mothers with small children. Such schools provide free care for babies while parents are learning.

Schools for adults (in English they may be called "Adult school", "Adult education", "Adult & Career education", "Adult educational center") are in most cities in America. So you just need to find the closest one, take a test for your level of knowledge and choose a time at which you can study.

Training is often free, but at the advanced level is harder to get - a full house. It should be borne in mind that in general the level of education in schools for adults is not very high. Therefore, after completing the course at school, you can try to continue your studies at the ESL course in the community college.

How to find:

  1. Enter the name of the city where you live and select the “English as a second language” option. The system will show you all educational institutions where you can improve your English;
  2. ESL courses can also be found on the website. The procedure is the same as in the previous paragraph;
  3. Type in Google “adult school ESL” and the name of your city. From the educational institutions offered by the search engine, choose the appropriate one, look for the “ESL program” in it and sign up for an interview.

Please note: ESL courses also offer private linguistic schools, however they will be charged for tuition.

Community centers

Here they will help everyone and in everything - these centers exist to support immigrants, to help them adapt and realize themselves. The centers can offer language courses, conversational clubs, game programs and activities for children.

How to find: type in Google “Community center ESL” and the name of your city, choose the closest one.

Public libraries

A great place not only to take useful literature, but also for speaking practice and classes with children. The libraries hold meetings for communication (ESL Conversational club), various programs for children, developing classes on sewing, knitting and much more.

Perhaps the level of language is low here, but the atmosphere is very friendly. In the library you can easily make friends, learn something new, listen to tips and at the same time learn simple phrases and words.

How to find: Google’s “Public library” and your city.

School where your children study

Some schools offer family literacy services; parent support and parent education for non-English speaking students. Therefore, you should contact the school where your child is studying and find out if they have similar programs.

Alena Borisova in the USA since 2014. My husband has a work visa, Alena has a H4 visa with which you cannot work, but you can study.

Alena Borisova seriously took up studying English only in the USA. Photos from the personal archive

Alena Borisova seriously took up studying English only in the USA. Photos from the personal archive

The language level at the time of arrival was below average, so she actively began to study. First in an adult school, then in college. Classes three times a week for three hours. Alena has enough time to study and for small children. “The most important thing,” says Alyona, “is to get a good group and a worthy teacher, because if the group is“ talkative, ”then you will speak willy-nilly yourself.”

Language proficiency: medium

This is the very majority who taught the language in school and college, trying to read literature and watch TV shows in the original (or at least with subtitles). There is no big confidence, but you can explain it - although you want, of course, ease of communication, knowledge and work in the future. Much depends on whether you are a US resident or not. Since the language improvement options are few.

ESL program at a community college or university

The “English as a Second Language” program at a college is more complicated than a school. Here you also need to pass a test for your level of knowledge - and not the fact that its results will correspond to the school.

In separate community colleges there is a program, after which a certificate is not issued (non-credit course). These are, in fact, free courses for auditors. They do not need a confirmation of residence, special visas or any conditions. You will not receive a diploma, but several levels of language can be mastered.

Further studies (above the so-called “intermediate” level) continue on a fee basis - and here it makes sense to wait for a residence (usually, one year of residence is required). Residents for tuition must pay several times less than non-residents. For example, in California Foothill College a course for non-residents on 10 credits (these are 10 hours per week for a semester) will cost 1880 $, and for a resident - 330 $.

Also ESL courses can be held in the best American universities, for example, Berkeley, University of Massachusetts, University of Houston. However, there a course of several months will cost about $ 500 - regardless of whether you are a resident or not.

How to find: You can add non-credit in the search line “college ESL” and your city, and then select the college closest to you.

Simple work

In order to master the language more quickly, many people who have work permits get the most basic positions. There are always vacancies in large chain stores, sports points, cafes and restaurants. It is only important not to show your excessive education - it happens that just because of this, they don’t take a simple job. And on the spot, start to communicate more with colleagues and listen to what they say around.

It is recommended not to get settled on the eve of holidays - there is no language practice, and there is a lot of work.

How to find: type on the Internet the name of the store where you want to work, find vacancies on their website, fill out a form and wait for a call.


This option is suitable not only for those who do not have permission to work in the United States, but also for those who are willing to work for free in an interesting place. And such places you can find a lot. Moms with young children can get a volunteer at a school or kindergarten. For active people there are a lot of volunteer positions in museums, amusement parks, at individual events. Libraries and urban centers always require volunteers - and, moreover, your level of knowledge of the language does not have to be high. If you want to go to a museum, but you know the language is not good - you will get a position in a souvenir shop at the museum.

How to find:

1) go to the site of the place of interest to you (museum, library, kindergarten, amusement park) and find the “Volunteer” section.

2) can also be searched on sites и

Irina Antonova has been living in the USA for a year now. She came with her husband and child, studied English in Russia according to the program “Rosetta Stone” and vocabulary programs on the site Actively listened to Jeff McMillan’s lectures on American culture and American accent on the website

In the USA, Irina entered an adult school — during her classes, her child was supervised in a kindergarten at a school. Irina also visited conversational clubs in the library for some time. These meetings helped to relax, start talking. For the most part, Irina tries to communicate with her English-speaking acquaintances — it helps a lot to develop the language. She already felt the results. “My American friend went on vacation for four months. When she returned, I realized that I understand almost all of her speech. I asked her: “Did you start talking slower with me?” And she smiles — no, faster, and even stopped picking simple words for you, ”says Irina.

Language proficiency: high

For the most part, these are employees of companies where knowledge of the language was a prerequisite for hiring, or holders of green cards who had long been preparing to move to the United States. For these people, only unfamiliar terms or “local flavor” can make up the complexity, but such words and expressions are quickly remembered, and, incidentally, their ignorance does not make life very difficult.

Such lucky ones can recommend courses “English without accent” (“English without accent” or classes in educational organization “Toastmasters International” for improved language proficiency and public speaking skills.

English without accent

In fact, these classes are suitable for any level of language proficiency. Just for those who have long and well said, this is the best way to correct their accent, working only on it, and fully integrate into the environment.

You can study in classes, you can online. But courses of this kind - pleasure paid (class with a coach - online or in person - costs from $ 50 to $ 100).

Such courses, as well as classes for advanced users of English, are offered by the best universities in the world, for example, Stanford ($ 250) and Harvard ($ 1350-2400).

How to find:

  1. on sites like:

2) it is worth checking courses on YELP - this application is very popular and trusted by Americans. Here you can find both a private teacher and a school where there is online training.

Clubs “Tostmasters”

These clubs exist throughout the United States and you can choose the one that is closer to home, or one where the approach is more serious. Clubs allow you to get practice performances in public. This can be a speech on a given topic or improvisation - when a question is asked, and each of those present can quickly formulate and give his answer.

In fact, these courses are also suitable for different levels, but those who have a sufficient vocabulary prefer to practice oratory.

How to find: go on the website and choose the club that is most suitable for you in terms of level and location.

Inna Kostyshin arrived in California with her husband in July 2015. My husband has a work visa, and Inna has a H4. The level of English is advanced. This was confirmed by a test at an adult school, where she was recommended to go to college immediately. Inna does not yet have a working visa, but she is actively improving her language and communication skills.

First of all, she visited several clubs “Toastmasters” and chose for herself the strongest in terms of level and composition. Very soon she was recognized as the best speaker of improvisation sessions.

Then she studied the issue of volunteering - and found interesting options for herself: signed up as a volunteer at the TEDxSanFrancisco conference, and also as a guide to the Sunnyvale Heritage Museum. At the same time, she constantly attends free seminars and lectures at Stanford, raising the level of her knowledge (the calendar of events at Stanford can be viewed here), looking for interesting events on the social networking portal and not afraid of communication - on the contrary, it is always open to him. Inna herself singles out one of all her successes: “I am very proud to be in the TEDxSanFrancisco team”. This is a great achievement indeed. ”

By the way, if you also want to study English on your own, Forum has selected for you top 10 mobile language learning apps. And earlier we told how teach a child living in America, Russian language.

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