Language Requirements In US Universities
Language requirements are standard for US and Canadian universities since this is the language of instruction in the classroom. Graduate degrees have very specific language requirements and may require foreign students to enroll in dedicated language preparation programs before they become eligible for the program that they want to enroll in. In most universities, applicants whose first language is not English must present certification as proof of English language proficiency to satisfy the admission requirement.
Language Admissions Exams
The most commonly used exam is TOEFL or Test of English as a Foreign Language exam in the US. IELTS or the International English Language Testing System is the most commonly used exam in most Canadian universities. Passing scores in these two exams are required for admission in undergraduate programs, masters programs as well as conditional acceptance for ESL and student degree programs.
These exam results also have prescription periods. For example, most universities require that the exam results must not be more than two years old. Exam results older than two years old may no longer be eligible and the applicant may need to take an English proficiency exam again to meet the requirement.
As of 2013, a total of 650 colleges and universities in the US use English proficiency as one of the admission requirements to any of their programs.
Requirements for Students from International Secondary Schools
Students from international secondary schools often face fewer restrictions. Most US and Canadian universities only require students to present a certification from the school head that the medium of instruction used in the secondary level is English. Smaller universities may not require any exam at all, as long as the student indicates that he or she is capable of speaking, reading and understanding English at a level that is sufficient to comply with academic requirements.
Support for English Language Difficulties
Foreign students who are accepted to these programs but eventually experience difficulties with the language during the semester can contact campus support. Universities have learning support systems designed to help students deal with language difficulties through tutoring and by referring the students to different learning resources.
Most ESL programs also have online tools designed to help students maximize learning. For example, the University of North Carolina’s ESL program has an Online Tools section where students can get resources on writing, reading, listening, and speaking, as well as access to different exercises, dictionaries, video and audio resources. Aside from resources offered by specific universities, there are also other resources that are available to students who do not have English as their primary language.
These include the following:
BBC Learning English
This is a simple, no-nonsense site run by the BBC for those who want simple instruction on English spelling, grammar and pronunciation. The site also offers podcasts and other downloads as well as resources for teachers. It is available in various languages including Chinese and Ukranian.
Self Study Quizzes for ESL Students
This site offers quizes for ESL students who want to review basic English areas such as grammar, idioms, expressions and tricky words. This is great for those who want to exercise their brains after a weeklong English lecture but hate making their exercises themselves.
ESL Resource Center
This is a center that offers advanced learning resources for both ESL students and teachers. They can access worksheets, tips and lessons, which are useful for those who are teaching or those who are reviewing on their own.