English is the global language for meetings of the mind – for everything from international summits to scientific collaboration. Proficiency allows access to myriad cross-cultural experiences and professional opportunities. In fact, research commissioned by the British Council found that English speakers earn three times as much as their non-speaking counterparts in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Figures like this aside, it’s clear that international tides are shifting. Given the post-industrial rise of China and its trend toward becoming a knowledge-based economy, many are rightfully asking what role Mandarin will play in the coming decades. However, many experts actually foresee English increasing in international importance as a direct result of the way that socio-political power is reorganizing.
Last year, Forbes published an article exploring the English’s role in international business. The article emphasized the shift from English as a language of the elite to one of the working class. It cites a study conducted by EF Education First and a report by the British Council that predicts 2 billion students actively studying English around the world by 2020.
Even in China, it appears that English’s role as the language of international commerce is widely accepted. English-language newspaper, China Daily, wrote that one-third of the Chinese population (i.e. 400 million people) is currently involved in some level of English-language instruction. According to experts cited in the article, the number of English-speaking Chinese will soon outnumber the populations of all English-speaking countries worldwide.
Cast in this light, it’s easy to see why so many Asian students are eager to master the English language before enrolling in university and going on to an international career. This is fueling demand for English programs that prepare students for the rigors of any academic pursuit in an English-language environment.
Choosing the right English language school
This unprecedented international demand for English-language instruction has produced overwhelming supply. Around the world, institutes promise to prepare students for Academia with crash courses and test-preparation programs. However, not all programs have the experience or reputation that students insist upon.
The majority of Asian students applying to international degree programs already have a background in English. What they require is an intensive, immersive program that provides strategies for comprehension, test-taking and note-taking coupled with the opportunity to adjust to the culture of the country in which they’ll be earning a degree. Universities across the West are aware of this, and they’ve responded with on-campus programs that emulate the university atmosphere without the sink-or-swim ultimatum that comes with full-time enrollment.
The best programs do more than provide simple English-language instruction. They follow-up with outings and activities that provide students with the opportunity to practice English in a casual, friendly environment. Many also provide advisory assistance with university selection and application. Others may serve as bridge programs, providing university credits that can be applied toward participating degree programs. For dedicated and industrious students, courses like this are an invaluable stepping stone to higher education.
The following are among leading English-language schools for Asian students:
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND – MARYLAND ENGLISH INSTITUTE
The Maryland English Institute (MEI) has a proven track record in English language instruction and is a key player in helping students from Asia make the transition to American universities. Instruction goes beyond basic language development to equip students for the cultural experience of earning a degree in the US. Read the full profile here…
HIGHBURY COLLEGE PORTSMOUTH – ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROGRAMS
Highbury College is one of the leading further education colleges in the UK, and it maintains some of the highest success rates among graduates. Located in the city of Portsmouth on England’s south coast, Highbury was awarded Association of Colleges (AoC) International Charter, placing it in an elite class of the UK’s top-performing colleges. Read the full profile here…
RUTGERS UNIVERSITY – PROGRAM IN AMERICAN LANGUAGE STUDIES
The Program in American Language Studies (PALS) is an innovative English language course hosted at Rutgers in Newark, New Jersey. The program helps international students gain the language skills and cultural understanding they need to thrive at an American university or workplace. Read the full profile here…
PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY – INTENSIVE ENGLISH COMMUNICATION PROGRAM
Set on the beautiful University Park campus in the town of State College, Pennsylvania, Penn State is one of the largest universities in the US. Penn State is a global top-50 university according to several rankings, and is ranked eighth in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report. Certification through the Intensive English Communication Program at Penn State carries the weight and credibility needed to launch high-profile academic pursuits in the US. Read the full profile here…
COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY – INSTITUTE FOR ESL & AMERICAN STUDIES
The College of New Jersey’s (TCNJ) Institute for ESL & American Studies provides English-language instruction to international students bound for a US university. It combines comprehensive language instruction with background on American culture, ensuring that students are prepared with the academic skills, language proficiency and cultural understanding they need to excel at an American university. Read the full profile here…
SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY– AMERICAN LANGUAGE INSTITUTE
The American Language Institute (ALI) at San Francisco University has been in operation since 1961. Its coursework emphasizes university preparation and hinges on the expertise of its teachers – all of whom have earned (or are earning) master’s degrees in teaching English to foreign speakers. Read the full profile here…