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4 Ways To Use Your Experience As An ESL Student In Your College Essays

Your college essay is the best way to stand out from all the other applicants out there. It’s a way to show that you’re unique and that you can bring something new to the college you’re hoping to attend. As an ESL student, you have a lot that makes you different. 

Your personal experience moving to a different country and learning the language as well as all the other subjects needed at school shows you’re an academic natural. Here’s how you can use that to secure that college place. 

1. Ensure Your Story Is Unique To You

The problem with many college admissions essays is that they are often generic.  That’s true, even of students who are ESL students. “While you may have come to a new country and learned a new language like other students, that doesn’t mean that your story is the same,” says Melissa Peterson, an academic writer with PhD Writing and Paper Fellows. “You need to find what makes your story unique, and start there.”

Think about the specific challenges that you faced. What did you have to overcome in order to succeed? Did you find a new passion when you came to your new school? How did you achieve academic success? The answer is different for everyone, so use your story to your advantage. 

2. Hone In On A Specific Topic

You only have so many words to work with, so you’re not going to be able to tell your life story. When you start writing, you’ll think that everything’s important, and so you’ll want to include everything. The trick is to find the most important part of the story and focus on that. 

For example, perhaps you want to write about winning an award at school, after starting to study there with little or no English skills yet. It’s tempting to want to write about your first day there, the struggles you faced, and how you overcame them. You just don’t have space for that, though. Instead, find the most important point where you were able to succeed. 

In this example, it could be the science class where you signed up to participate. After all your hard work, you were confident enough to sign up and it paid off in the form of the award. Find that topic and narrow it down, so you’re only focusing on the most important part of the story you’re telling. 

3. Understand Your Goals

The main goal of a college essay is to have the admissions team accept you. However, you also want to think about how you want the team to perceive you. What do you want them to see of you? 

Most college students will want to put across that they are hard-working and dependable. These are smart goals, but remember that your grades are already doing a lot of that work for you. Instead, you can focus on another part of your personality that will help you secure that place. 

“That’s where you can focus on your experience as an ESL student,” says educational blogger Charlie Morgan, from Essay Services and Boom Essays. “You can use these experiences to show how you deal with challenge and adversity.”

4. Proofread And Edit

It doesn’t matter how compelling your story is, if you don’t proofread and edit your essay it won’t be considered. You don’t want to accidentally leave spelling errors in there, or realise that there’s an important part missing once you send the essay off. 

Once you’ve written it, leave it for a couple of days. That way, you can come back to it with fresh eyes. Make sure that you’ve written the essay in your own tone, rather than a more formal, academic one. Also look to see if the essay flows and gets your point across clearly. 

You should have another person read over your essay too, as others can spot issues that you’ve missed. Ask a trusted teacher or counselor to take a look at it for you. As an ESL student, you’re in a unique position when it comes to college essays. Use your story in your writing, and show your college of choice that you’re just the kind of student that they’re looking for. 

Emily Henry is an education writer with Academized and Assignment Help, where she covers tips and advice for students. She’s also a tutor for Ox Essays. 

Using Music To Learn A New Language

With apps such as Spotify and Apple Music making any song you want to hear immediately accessible, why should we not utilise it to its full extent: as a means of learning a new language. Ever had a song stuck in your head? Our brains latch on to catchy tunes. People will listen to their favourite song on repeat until they know every word off by heart, and so imagine how useful this could be when learning a language?

Song lyrics help you learn vocabulary in context

Rather than simply learning the words, song lyrics typically are talking about a specific topic, and so you better understand which words are used in which context. Quite often, we will have different words used for different situations (ie. you may tell your mother that you are feeling frustrated, but tell your friend that you are %@!&$ off – same meaning, different words)

Or, the same word may mean different things depending on the context (ie. “that is my phone” and “phone me” – in one context it is being used as a noun, the other as a doing word).

Music is portable

The beauty of modern technology is that it can be enjoyed everywhere. On your bus to work, you could be listening to foreign songs, learning languages while just relaxing. Gone are the days of lugging around giant textbooks, you have access to all the songs in the world from your device. Simply go onto Spotify (although, of course, other music streaming apps are available) and you can search for songs by country!

Learn the REAL language

Textbooks will give you super formal language, but it can be hard to understand what natives are saying as they will use colloquial dialect and slang. Music is the best way to learn what language native speakers authentically use, and will make it easier for you to engage in enjoyable conversation.

Imagine this scenario:

Someone comes up to you and says “How do you do, sir. The weather is rather enjoyable today, is it not?” versus someone who says “alright, mate. Bloody hot today, innit?”

Who are you more likely to engage in enjoyable and fluent conversation with?

Singing helps!

Yes, singing can be a little embarrassing, but the University of Edinburgh found that your chances of learning a language double when you sing the phrases you are trying to memorise. Singing can also help with pronunciation! You get more used to the sound of the language and saying the actual words. So whether it is in the shower, while cooking dinner, or at a karaoke bar, get to singing those foreign songs!

Why You Should Become TEFL Qualified

Teaching English Foreign Language (TEFL) has always been a popular qualification to gain, and the number of people becoming TEFL qualified is only going up.

There are 1.5 billion English learners in the world right now, and this number is expected to rise to 2 billion by 2020. The Chinese TEFL market is worth $4.5 billion right now and is rising by around 15% per year. So, as you can see, the TEFL industry is certainly one to consider.

The average salary for Teaching English as a Foreign Language is around $3000 USD, depending on where you go. Although, if you work privately then you can set your own prices.

Why should you get a TEFL qualification?

  1. Fund your travels!

The main reason people become TEFL certified is to fund their travels. Explore the world, and fund it by teaching people English as you go. It is popular amongst gap-year students to do this, although anyone is more than welcome to!

2. Access more teaching jobs

Schools and businesses are more likely to take on teachers who are actually qualified, as it usually means that they offer a higher quality of service than those who are uncertified. Certified teachers know why the English syntax is the way it is, and they have a greater understanding of explaining past/future participles, adjectives, verbs, and nouns. Keep in mind that the rules are different in every language.

3. Gain confidence in your teaching

Sure, everyone has a rough idea of how to teach. But a TEFL course teaches you how to teach. From lesson plans, to various teaching styles, TEFL gives you the training you need to give the best quality teaching. Do you know how to effectively address a language or cultural barrier? This will make you more confident, and assure your student is getting the most out of their lessons.

4. Prepare yourself culturally

TEFL sites usually give you a break down in the culture of the country/region you are considering teaching in. This will make your time in the country more enjoyable and easier for you, as well as allowing you to make the most out of it. Nothing can set you back further than a culture shock.

Sourced from YouTube.

How do I become TEFL certified?

by enrolling in a TEFL course! They are typically anywhere between 100-180 hours long, but they give you plenty of time it slowly complete them. We will provide some links below:

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Why Should You Study English Abroad?

When deciding to learn English, one of the big questions you will have to ask yourself is whether you are going to study in your home country or whether you are going to travel abroad to learn. Studying English abroad is a big decision. It is also a big commitment and requires a lot of work, but equally, it can be a life-changing experience.

You will have the opportunity to learn English in an English-speaking environment, meet people from all around the world who are working towards the same goal and get an authentic language education.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Here are some common concerns about going abroad to study English.

1. Will I find it too difficult?

Simply being in an English speaking country doesn’t magically make learning the language easier. You will have to pay attention and concentrate all the time and at first, this might be very difficult. But English language schools are equipped to help make your learning process as easy as possible. And you can always ask for help.

When you learn English in an English-speaking country, you will be surrounded by it all the time. You will have to use your vocabulary in supermarkets, cafes and other day-to-day tasks. You will also find yourself speaking English to your classmates, thus improving your spoken English.

This can be a very quick way to learn. Even when you are not in classes, you will be practising your skills in a real environment. You will also experience the way native speakers really speak when they interact with each other. This is a very authentic education.

2. Will the culture shock be overwhelming?

You might worry that the shock of being in a new place and having to learn different ways of doing things might get in the way of your ability to improve your English.

For some people, going to another country to study English might be the first time they’ve gone abroad on their own and that might be difficult. But remember: it’s difficult for everyone at first. Make some friends who speak your language and go out and get to know the area together. Studying English in another country can really broaden your horizons and give you the opportunity to get to grips with a new culture.

This can be especially useful if you intend to use your English language skills to study a degree as an international student. When you arrive at university, you’ll have a head start over all the other international students.

3. Will it be too expensive?

Studying English abroad may seem like a luxury: getting to spend time in another country, experiencing a whole new way of life and getting a first-class education in a global language from people who really speak it; none of that comes cheap. If you do your research correctly and plan well, you might find that it’s actually not that much more expensive than studying at home.

You will learn a lot more in a shorter space of time and the quality of the English that you come back with will be much stronger. You may find that you can study somewhere where the cost of living is less than you are used to. And you probably won’t have to grapple with getting a student visa if you are only staying for a short amount of time – make sure to check that though!

When you are considering the cost of studying English abroad, you need to be thinking in terms of the investment you are making in your future. That’s what you are really paying for.

And there are some reasons to study English abroad that you just can’t disagree with:

  • It will look great on your CV
  • Employers are increasingly looking for applicants who can speak more than one language, and if you have experienced living in a different country, even better.
  • When someone reads your application form, they don’t just want a list of your qualifications. They also want to see evidence of things you have done or achieved to prove that you have made use of those skills.
  • If you can say that you have lived in an English speaking country and made use of your language skills in context, then that instantly tells the reader that your skills are as good as you say they are. And you’ll have no trouble getting by in your target country.
  • It will change your life.
  • The international network of friends you will make, the experiences you will have, and the memories you will take home will be with you for the rest of your life.
  • Your understanding of the world will be broader and you will be in a better position to travel it.
  • You will also find that, even if you go back to your home country and stay there, you will be better placed to work in global industries and interact with visitors.

Ultimately, you will have demonstrated that you can stand on your own two feet and be responsible for yourself. You will be able to go back to your life with new independence.

For more information, visit the British Council’s website.

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10 Ways to Improve Your English, From an English Teacher

Alex Case has worked as an English teacher and teacher trainer all around the world. He has also published English teaching books, articles and materials for all levels of learners. And now he offers all students a top 10 list of ways to improve your English:

1. Label things in your house or office with post-its

When learning English, the easiest vocabulary to learn is the vocabulary of things you see and use everyday. If you can write the names of things around you on slips of paper and stick them on the real thing, this is a great way of learning useful vocabulary. If you can leave them there over the following days and weeks, this is a very easy way of revising the vocabulary until it is properly learnt.

2. Listen to English music

Even listening to music while doing something else can help a little for things like getting used to the natural rhythm and tone of English speech. Although the more time and attention you give to a song the more you will learn from listening to it again in the future.

3. Sign up for a regular English tip

Some websites offer a weekly or even daily short English lesson sent to your email account. If your mobile phone has an e-mail address, it is also possible to have the tips sent to your phone to read on the way to work or school. Please note, however, that such services are not usually graded very well to the levels of different students. They should be used as a little added extra or revision in your English studies rather than as a replacement for something you or your teacher have chosen more carefully as what you need to learn.

4. Read English language entertainment guides

Nowadays most big cities in the world have an English language magazine and/or online guide to the movies, plays, exhibitions that are on in the city that week. Reading this in English is not only good value, but it could also guide you to places that English speakers are interested in and where you might hear some English spoken around you.

5. Have English radio on, while you are doing your housework

Even if you are not listening carefully, it will help you get a feel for natural English rhythm and intonation and help you in learning English.

6. Say or think what you are doing in English as you do your daily tasks

As you are doing your chores, try creating sentences describing what you are doing, e.g. ‘I am unscrewing the ketchup bottle cap’. This gets you used to thinking in English without translating and can be a good way of seeing what simple vocabulary that is around you every day you don’t know. 

7. Keep a list of language to learn (e.g. a vocabulary list)

Even if you don’t often find time to go through your vocab list and it keeps on building up, just the act of choosing which words you need to learn and writing them down on a special list can help you learn them.

8. Learn as many words as you can of one category (e.g. animal words)

Learning English words thematically together can both expand your overall vocabulary and make them easier to learn by forming links between the words in your brain.

9. Occasionally talk to or email your friends in English

Many people find this a bit false or embarrassing, but if you think of it as a study club or a learning English club and set a particular time or place, it is no different from studying maths together.

10. Set goals

Deciding how many hours you want to study, how many words you want to learn or what score you want to get in a test are all good ways of making sure you do extra study.

These are just 10 of Alex’s 70 ways to improve your English. Read the full list on UsingEnglish.com.

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How To Improve Your English Speaking Skills For University

International students come to study in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and other English speaking countries with vastly different levels of English proficiency. Some speak English perfectly because they come from English speaking countries, have been educated in English in their home country, or attended an international school in a host country and may speak little to none of their own national languages. Other students have a fairly good mastery of English but need to or want to improve.

Some of you may be entering programs that require you to be fairly proficient in English before being accepted and others may have been accepted into programs where you still need help in the language and the school is prepared to give that extra help by way of offering English as a Foreign Language (EFL) or classes for English Language Learners (ELL), as they are called in the U.S.

Obviously the better you know the language the sooner you will get settled and connected, and the easier it will be to move along in your studies. Even if the main reason you are coming to an English-speaking country is to learn English, don’t wait until you get there to start learning and/or practising the language. Try to have some knowledge of the language and practice speaking it before leaving home.

One of the biggest reasons international students feel isolated at school is because they can’t communicate.

This can also make them feel like they made the wrong decision to study abroad, and can lead to feeling extremely homesick or even depressed. It’s frustrating and uncomfortable not to be understood and not to be able to let others know what you need. Knowing at least a few words and phrases in English will help you get around and feel more comfortable and self-assured.

Of course, most students start learning a new language quickly when they are immersed in it 24 hours a day every day as you will be, but it does take time. So it is a good idea to start working on it as soon as you can. Here are ten tips to help you get started:

1. Find English speakers to practice with.

2. Read in English.

Read the world news, which you may already understand in your own language, but also read the news of the country you will be studying in so you will be able to discuss current events with your peers and others.

3. Practice writing in English.

For example, write letters to friends, to your school, or to family members. You don’t have to actually send them unless you want to.

4. Watch movies with English subtitles.

5. Listen to audiobooks or podcasts in English.

6. Take a class in English.

It can be one that doesn’t count for credit but is fun, creative, or entertaining. It could even be a dance, art or sports class.

7. Study English with a tutor.

8. Read books in English that you are already familiar with and know the storyline.

9. Watch familiar childhood movies, such as Disney movies in English.

10. Regionalise your English.

If you are using an English language program, be sure it is ‘American’ English if you will be studying in the U.S. or Canada and ‘British’ English if you are studying in the U.K. or former English colony.

Look into learning slang and idioms of the English language in your country of study. There are many words and phrases in British English that have very different meanings in the U.S. and can be considered rude or inappropriate and vice versa. International students report that language misunderstandings are one of the most frequent causes of cultural surprises.

Keep practising even if you think your English speaking skills are fairly good. Practice with a native English speaker. As you go about your day, start going through in your head how you would say in English some of the things you are asking, answering, or debating in your own language. More than one international student has offered the suggestion that watching television programs in the country of study helps improve one’s accent – something that helps break down barriers when trying to make friends with your host country peers.

This article has been written by Tina L. Quick, Author of Survive and Thrive: The International Student’s Guide to Succeeding in the U.S.

You can order this amazing book here.

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