English is useful for all stages of our lives, and all main activities in which we might want to get involved. For us, native English speakers, this is of course common sense; but we tend to underestimate how important our language is for ESOLs - English Speakers of Other Languages. They do have their own culture, their own knowledge and their own opportunities; but among all languages, it is English the one that opens most doors and expands the horizons more than any other one. In today’s world, English has become the universal language, and it allows people from different places to communicate, share ideas and thoughts, and build things together. With English, everyone can access information, education and more job opportunities, as well as have enriching experiences in contact with different cultures.
Those who come to an English-speaking country in the search for knowledge, progress or success - which aren’t a few - need to develop their proficiency in our language not only to be able to benefit from all education and opportunities available, but also to become integrated in their community.
It isn’t rare that people from other countries, sometimes from faraway continents, come to the UK and want to go to college in order to obtain a degree or specialization. This is really good, because superior education increases people’s chances of success in businesses and life. However, they also find some challenges when they want to access this education, and one of the main barriers that prevent people from accessing these opportunities is precisely English proficiency.
In the last half of a year, politics have changed in the UK, and the Ministry has decided to cut down the budget for English courses aimed to ESOLs in colleges and other educational institutions. This has generated great controversy and strong opposition from many different sides. Some complain about the job positions lost while others focus on the social and educational importance of English courses for immigrants. English speakers of other languages fight for their right to learn our language and they have made protests in front of the Parliament in the hopes to be heard and have any impact in the decision that has been taken. So far, their voice remains unheard.
Many colleges in the UK teach English as a second language. In soma cases, they are complementary to international scolarships while in other cases, they are aimed at immigrant students who want to develop their English proficiency in order to attend lectures and study their careers. Colleges that teach English as a second language have been seriously beaten by last year’s budget cutdown, but still many of them keep at least a fraction of their courses open to the public.
These courses usually have a conventional methodology and are mainly aimed at the students of the same university. Most of them are located in London, which receives the most immigrant students and exchange studens from non English-speaking countries. However, other major cities throughout the UK also offer this sort of courses in their universities.
English courses in universities are grupal and they have the "classroom approach", mainly indoors and with students interacting with a teacher. This is not the only way to teach our language, but as it is the most standard, it’s the one that is most likely to be found in universities.
For those who have tried the traditional approach and not found it fitting for their needs and learning style, or those who haven’t gotten a place in the universities’ shrinking courses, there are other options for English courses. Many private institutions offer this sort of training in the form of short, intensive courses, as well as year-long courses and summer or winter break courses. These are very useful to develop and strenghten the students’ proficiency in the English language.
Academies with the best results are usually those with a non-traditional approach to language learning. Naturalistic learning, also known as immersion courses, have proven to be very effective. Learning centers like Aston Academy and of course Active are just two of all academies which offer this sort of education.
Naturalistic learning has proven to be effective because it emulates the way we people naturally learn our own language, which is, immersion. Students are surounded by native English speakers and must only speak English all day and night. They attend classes in a classroom, often in small groups, but then they have trips to the city or town and they interact with natives in English. This is a real test as well as a great way to become fluent in English and dominate all basic aspects of the language.
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