If you want to study abroad, you will most likely have to prove you have a good enough understanding of the English language before you can enroll in any classes. This is because most international degrees are taught in English. But what if you want to study abroad and you don’t speak English? Don’t worry, there are more than enough ways to learn English so your dream of studying abroad can come true.
Why study abroad?
According to the Erasmus Student Network, people who study abroad develop four main traits. They are culturally competent, speak a foreign language, and possess good communication skills, they are mobile and develop their personality further. Studying abroad is a unique experience both on a personal level and from an academic point of view.
By studying abroad, you place yourself in an international environment that is great for developing intercultural contacts. On top of that, it has the benefit of giving you valuable insight into different cultures, gives you the opportunity to learn a new language, and to grow as a person. Studies even show that students who study abroad have better grades, drop out less, and graduate with higher rates. On top of that, spending a semester or longer abroad looks great on your CV since employers are now recognizing the value of an international experience to develop soft skills needed in the workplace.
Ways to learn English for studying abroad
1Enroll in an English class or get a tutor
The best way of learning English is to enroll in an English class. Taking a class, either in person or online, is especially useful if you are starting from scratch or if you’re having trouble with the basics. There are many online free tests where you can discover your English level. Once you know where you stand, you can enroll at the right level. Nobody wants to waste their time in a class that is too easy or be overwhelmed in a class that is much above their skill level, right?
Do you really want to step it up? Then get a personal tutor. A personal tutor is focussed only on you and can come up with a lesson plan that is specifically targeted to what you want to learn. Everyone has a different learning style, and tutors can help you figure out what works for you.
2Read, read, and read even more
Learning a new language takes a lot of practice, and reading is great practice. You don’t have to start with classic literature like Charles Dickens or Jane Austen. In the beginning, learning a new language by reading is a matter of quantity, not quality. Read everything you can get your hands on, and that means everything: books, newspapers, emails, social media, newspapers, or even cereal boxes. As long as it is in English, read it.
The reason is that whatever you read will most likely be a combination of vocabulary you already know as well as new stuff. By repeating the things you already know and filling in the gaps of the words you don’t know with contextual clues, you will learn much more quickly. And as an added benefit, did you know that reading books actually improves your quality of life?
In today’s digital world, it is very easy to get access to English spoken media. Think YouTube, podcasts, online news websites, or audiobooks. Listening to English spoken media works the same as reading: you repeat what you already know and learn new vocabulary by filling in the blanks with contextual clues.
The advantage of listening is that you can combine it with other things. You can listen to an audiobook on your commute to work or tune into a podcast on your daily run. However, there is one big disadvantage to listening over reading: spelling. For you to truly get a good grip on the English language so you can study abroad, you also need to know how words are spelled, especially with words that sound the same but mean something else. For example, they’re, their, and there all sound the same, but have very different meanings.
Following a conversation and actively contributing to it by forming sentences is the hardest, but most rewarding exercise you can do. By doing this regularly, you train your mind in conversations instead of just random words or common sentences.
Talking is also great for pronunciation. Not every word sounds the same as it is written, and you can only figure that out when you talk to someone. They can also point out your weak spots and help you get better at those.
What if you don’t want to study abroad, but teach abroad? Teaching English abroad is a great way to get an international experience and help students all over the world. How? By getting a TEFL certification. TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language and the TEFL certification proves you have a good enough understanding of the English language to teach it to others. You can find all the information about getting a TEFL Certification here and starting your teaching career.
Studying abroad is a great way to develop your personal and academic skills. However, international programs often have an English language requirement. Learning English to study abroad can be done in several ways – the best way is to enroll in an English class. This can be online or in person. If you really want to step it up, you can get a private tutor. You can also learn English on your own by reading, listening, and talking as much in English as possible. Read the back of your favorite cereal box, find an English YouTube video about that cereal, and then give a short oral presentation of that cereal explaining why you like it so much. Fun, right? And excellent practice.