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Learning English On A Trip to The United States of America

By Yann, published on 23/08/2019 We Love Prof - AU > Languages > ESOL (English) > Learn English As You Travel: ESOL In The USA

If you are an ESL learner and you are serious about developing your English language skills and developing fluency to feed into your English as a second language (ESOL) course, then you should definitely consider travelling out of the ordinary ESL classroom and into an extraordinary English speaking country as part of your English language development.

What better way to grasp a language than to immerse yourself in the country’s culture, hearing the language being spoken by natives?

No one can dispute the effectiveness of enrolling in ESL programs, don’t get us wrong. ESOL teaching techniques and ESOL English certification programs for ESL students are top quality and have proven to be highly effective. The learning environment and teaching strategies certainly are the leading factor in motivation and language development for students. This method of teaching and learning gives English language learners a solid foundation in the language, giving students the speaking, listening, reading and writing skills to communicate in English competently.

But despite the strengths of ESL English language instruction in the traditional way, speaking English requires more than just language training. For non native students to learn English effectively and fluently they must spend some time in English speaking countries. This will allow them to transform limited English language skills into high-level language proficiency.

When you study in the classroom, your English speaking tends to stop once you leave the physical class. But when you live abroad in an English speaking country, English language teaching opportunities are all around you and you learn fast. This strategy has real value for international students who are serious about their second language acquisition and want to speed up the process.

The Different Types Of English

Grammarly offers a very simple but precise explanation of the principal uses of the English language:

“Many Americans who love tea would turn up their noses at the idea of adding milk to it. Brits, on the other hand, are known for lacing their strong tea with milk. With or without milk, tea is tea. It’s served one way in Britain and another way in the United States, but everyone can recognize it for what it is. The language that Americans and Brits share is a bit like that—spoken differently in the two locations, but understandable by both groups of speakers.”

English speakers never set out to create two distinctly different languages – and they really aren’t all that different, as we’ll discover below. In essence, native Americans and Brits began to notice slight differences in their languages emerging over time which would have been due to a number of influencing factors, for example: surroundings (i.e. different nature, fauna, flora, etc…), and neighbouring countries and their own languages and words.

Most conversations between American and British citizens go without a hiccup, but on the odd occasion, the language can cause a slight barrier. Not enough to cause a huge misunderstanding, but probably it will probably suffice to make them have a giggle!

For instance, if you invited your American colleague to continue your important business talk in the ‘lift’, they might look at you a little puzzled. Try, ‘elevator’, they might say! Or, what if you bumped into someone in a bar in Kentucky, let’s say, and they told you they were a caretaker in town. As a Brit, you’d no doubt have visions of a man holding his broom and creeping around the hallways (a bit like your old school caretaker maybe!). But for the US, a caretaker can mean someone maintains a building, looks after other people’s properties while their owners are away or living elsewhere or it could mean as the name suggests – someone who takes care of another person.

There are far too many missing words to list, but most of us are aware of the words to switch when we visit either or country: Lorry becomes truck, cellar becomes basement, windscreen = windshield, gas = petrol, etc… But what about words that are effectively pronounced the same but look different on paper?

According to Grammarly, “One man is responsible for many of the spelling differences that exist between American and British English. His name was Noah Webster. Yes, the same Webster of Webster’s Dictionary. He decided that Americans should be independent, not only politically, but also lexically. That’s why you’ll notice an extra U in some British words like colour, armour, and humour. American English tends to end words with -ize rather than the British -ise. The -er ending of words like theater and center is reversed in British English words. Other words are almost unrecognizable as cognates, such as curb and kerb.”

In addition, there are various grammar variations when you consider UK English and US English.

The British Council websites offers some comparisons and mini-lessons on its website to help you pinpoint the main differences between the UK and US English variations.

About The Largest English-Speaking Country – America

The most commonly used language in the United States of America (USA) is English (specifically, American English), yet many other languages are spoken across this huge and diverse continent. With 240 million people reportedly being English speakers, over 40m are said to have Spanish as their mother-tongue, with languages such as Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Arabic, French, Korean, Russian and German also being among the top 10 languages of the US.

‘The States’ is a country made up of the 50 states. These states can be divided into 4 regions; The Northeast, The midwest, The West and the south.

  1. The Northeast is where you will find New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
  2. The Midwest is where you will find Ohio, Michigan and Kansas.
  3. The South is where you will find Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas
  4. The West is where you find California, Arizona, Alaska and New Mexico.

Like the UK, People in the USA live all over the country, you can find huge cities or tiny towns and everything in between. The transport system is fantastic with trains and long distance buses that can take you anywhere you need to go. However, English learner who hopes to travel across the country should be aware of how large the United States is depending on your connection it could take days to travel from the east to west coast.

It is important while planning your trip in the USA that you maximise your time to learn the most possible about the language and culture. If you want to experience the immersion and enrichment from travelling abroad, you have to be very intentional in your learning. Because you will not have an English tutor or language program to guide your learning.

You will be fully responsible for your speaking skills, your listening skills and your comprehension. This will be your most honest language assessment, and you will have to become a teacher to yourself. Spotting opportunities to learn, by paying attention to the native grammatical language that English speakers use.

Canada has a plug style like the USA Imagine if you improved your English speaking by sightseeing in the USA. Photo Source: Unsplash

Benefits Of Learning English While Travelling In The United States of America

Advancing with your English proficiency is the goal of any trip abroad to an English speaking country.  If you are willing to be fully engaged in your own development and learning of English, then this will be a successful experience.

Top Benefits And Tips For Learning English In The USA

  1. The USA is a beautiful country with very friendly and welcoming people. If you are able to avoid being shy the conversations with the local people could become your best language teachers. Just by using your listening skills as your main method of teaching yourself.
  2. Although you are probably not a certified teacher, you could plan your day with some lesson planning quizzes or language training games. Because you will be surrounded by English 24 hours a day, this could be a fun way to get through the day.
  3. Try experiences that follow real life, you could push yourself to speak on the phone, go to buy something in a shop and speak to the assistant, go to an art gallery and take a tour of the city. All of these are opportunities for fun, but also they are also proactive teaching techniques for you to try different English vocabulary.
  4. The USA is multicultural and multilingual, so even if you have basic English, you will always find people who can help you and help you to communicate.
  5. The USA is full of spectacular natural environments, gorgeous cities and fantastic beaches. You can take tours or explore on your own. You will have lots of opportunities to improve your English communication.
  6. You will use your English skills so much that you will easily be able to identify where you are lacking grammar and vocabulary. This will allow you to fix these issues and fill any limitations in your knowledge.
  7. You will have the chance to share in a cross-cultural exchange as native English speakers will be interested in your background. Even non-native speakers will be fun to speak with about the interesting American Cultural differences.

Get a Visa to study in the USA Start the language learning journey of a lifetime. Photo Source: Unsplash

Short Courses To Enrol On Whilst In The USA

The States are big. So where to start? The good thing about going to America is that you will have no end of choices when it comes to finding an improver course in English! We’ve picked out just a few courses in the San Diego area that you might like to consider whilst on your travels.

Where: Connect English Language Institute – Mission Valley, San Diego
Course: English Max Course
Type: Part-time – 18 hrs/week
Duration: 1-52 weeks
Age: 16+
Price: From £344
Additional info: The Connect English MAX programs use an intensive, multi-skill approach. Students achieve success through focused, customized attention in speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Where: Connect English Language Institute – Mission Valley, San Diego
Course: English Focus Course
Type: Part-time – 12 hrs/week
Duration: 1-24 weeks
Age: 16+
Price: From £278
Additional info: The Connect English Focus programs use an intensive, multi-skill approach. Students achieve success through focused, customized attention in speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Where: Connect English – La Jolla, San Diego
Course: English Focus Course
Type: Part-time – 12 hrs/week
Duration: 1-24 weeks
Age: 16+
Price: From £322
Additional info: The Connect English Focus programs use an intensive, multi-skill approach. Students achieve success through focused, customized attention in speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Where: Connect English – La Jolla, San Diego
Course: English MaxCourse
Type: Part-time – 18 hrs/week
Duration: 1-52 weeks
Age: 16+
Price: From £344
Additional info: The Connect English MAX programs use an intensive, multi-skill approach. Students achieve success through focused, customized attention in speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Where: Connect English Language Institute- San Diego (Pacific Beach Campus), San Diego
Course: English Max
Type: Part-time – 18 hrs/week
Duration: 1-52 weeks
Age: 16+
Price: From £344
Additional info: The Connect English MAX programs use an intensive, multi-skill approach. Students achieve success through focused, customized attention in speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Where: Language Studies International (LSI): San Diego, San Diego
Type: Part/Full-time – 20 hrs/week
Duration: 1-4 weeks
Age: 40+
Price: From £723
Additional info: Includes: • Morning General 20 in mixed age classes • Afternoon activities: 3 p/wk • Course duration: 1–4 week programs • Minimum age: 40 • Elementary to Intermediate levels At LSI we welcome mature students of all ages, who are “young at heart” on all our courses throughout the year. In addition at specific locations, we organize social activities which suit the more mature student’s interests.

Attractions For US Sitcom Lovers To Visit

So we’ve found out about how American English and British English differ, and ways that we can learn the English language whilst in the US, but the fact is that we learn best when we are having fun so where are some of the most fun places to go in the USA?

Friends, the TV show, is probably one of the biggest sitcoms to have come from America, loved by millions of people from all generations and still being played at almost every hour on television across the world. So, if you’re travelling up the coast from San Diego to Manhattan, you’ve got to go and visit some of the sights made famous in this legendary series, right?

Monica, Rachel, Chandler and Joey’s Apartment Building

Where is it? 90 Bedford St., Greenwich Village, Manhattan

Take a trip down the road where nearly every character has once lived during the life of the show and see the apartment blocks with their balconies for yourself. Forget the fact that the inside of their apartment was a studio set up – this is where the group of friends lived in essence!

American Museum of Natural History

Where is it? Central Park at West 79th Street, Upper West Side, Manhattan

Ross fan or not, going to a history museum is fascinating but if you’re keen on the dinosaur-loving professor then you will just love going to visit his place of work! Or, at least, where it is supposed the museum in the show is based on. Now all you need is Joey as your tour guide!

Bloomingdale’s

Where is it? 1000 Third Ave., Midtown East, Manhattan

The iconic ‘Rachel’ haircut took the world by storm when Friends appeared on our screens, but it was the star’s fashion that also captured the hearts and eyes of viewers.  Jennifer Aniston’s character famously worked at Bloomingdales and kick-started her career in fashion and you too could go and visit the place where it all started for once-waitress Rachel.

The Lucille Lortel Theatre

Where is it? 121 Christopher St., West Village, Manhattan

Okay so you may not be able to catch Matt LeBlanc performing theatre but you can pop in and see a show at the place where Joey had some of his memorable performances.

Madison Square Garden

Where is it? 34th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, Midtown West, Manhattan

And finally, Madison Square Garden is a must-see for anyone, whether or not they love the popular TV programme or not. The arena is home to numerous sporting, comedy and music events but for you fans out there it is famed for being the place where the boys of the show go for some male bonding time. Just watch out for those ice hockey pucks!

Other Options For ESL English Learners To Visit The United States of America

You also have the option to live temporarily in the USA if you would like to stay longer than a few weeks. To do this, you will need to apply for the correct Visa that matches your circumstances.

If continuing your education is essential for your second language, try enrolling on a program to

  • Learn as a full-time English student in the US with a college level international school or educational program.
  • Complete a student exchange program for a semester
  • Do an internship for bilingual education

ESL students studying English in adult education for professional development will find business English opportunities too.

  • The USA is home to thousands of business events, conferences, seminars, meetups and networking events where you can come together with other like-minded people to not only practice your English but also to develop your business contacts. You could also hire an English teacher to be your travel guide so that you can learn while exploring.

Discuss the options with your current school teacher or English tutor for the best guidance on the matter. They are experienced to know what is best for your academic achievement.

Benefits Of Learning English While Travelling In The United States of America The USA is full of specatular natural environments, gorgeous cities and fantastic beaches. Photo Source: Unsplash

US Entry Essentials To For The English Language Learner

Entry Requirements

Every non-US national must carry a passport that is valid for the period of stay in the country, to be safe make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of 6 months after you plan to leave the country. It is essential to check your passport before travelling as you could be turned back at the US border if your passport doesn’t meet their requirements.

Most countries are required to apply for a visa or travel document before travelling to the USA. You also need to fill out a customs declaration. It is a good idea to carry your itinerary with you to show that you have enough money for the trip and that you have somewhere to stay or a hotel.

If you have to get a visa to make sure that you are approved before booking your flights and accommodation because visa can be delayed and even refused for various reasons.

At the border or port of entry, you will have a photo and fingerprints taken, this only happens as you are entering the country after which you can travel freely within the United States.

Essential Practical Information

  • The United States of America speaks English as its national language, but there are many other languages spoken including Spanish and Creole.
  • The currency is The United States of America Dollar (USD)
  • The legal drinking age is 21 years old
  • The emergency number is 911
  • The Mainland USA has 4 time zones; Eastern time, Central time, Mountain time and Pacific time.
  • Be aware of no smoking signs even when you outside
  • The international country code is 1, and each state has its own 3 digit area code
  • Saying hello or shaking hands is the usual greeting upon meeting someone. Depending on where you are you may be hugged or kissed on the cheek.

As an ESOL student travelling in the USA, you are going to have the time of your life, and it will undoubtedly be a highlight of your English language learning journey. When you go back to your ESOL lessons so much more is going to make sense to you. This is an experience that brings your imagination to life and also brings the language to life too. So if you have the chance make sure to book your trip ASAP and start the language learning journey of a lifetime.

Imagine being able to say that you improved your English speaking confidence by sightseeing in New York, USA or Melbourne Australia.

If you found this useful, why not check out our blog on Student Travel in Canada!

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