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Moving to a new country is hard enough, but learning and using a new language can make that transition even more complicated! Communication is the key to survival in your newly adopted country, so learning English, the dominant language of the U.S., is a must. But if you’ve ever attempted to learn English before, you know how complex and confusing it can be with its many rules and exceptions to those rules. Learning a new language presents another type of challenge: striking a balance between adopting a new way of life and maintaining your cultural roots.
The Challenges Ahead
Culture shock is one of the biggest hurdles immigrants face upon their arrival to America. Figuring out how to survive in a completely new environment with a completely new culture and language can be downright disorienting. Human beings are naturally social creatures. Being unable to readily converse with most people in your new surroundings can cause a great deal of anxiety and hinder your process of acclimating to America.
But there is hope, however, because one of the best ways to learn a new language is to use it. Sometimes referred to as ESOL or English for Speakers of Other Languages, English as a Second Language (ESL) programs in the United States educate students who are not native English speakers to become proficient in the language. However, many ESL programs are, understandably, in large urban centers where access to English lessons are more readily available. But what if you don’t live in one of these major city-centers? What if you live in a smaller ethnic community or a rural district? In order to develop comprehension of the English language, ESL students need access to English-language models and opportunities to apply what they’ve learned.
Your grasp of the English language, or lack thereof, can lead to further anxiety as you struggle to do, well, most anything in a timely fashion, whether it’s work, school, or something else. When you cannot readily communicate with those around you, you’re bound to take longer to finish even the most mundane tasks. This can be so frustrating, especially when you know exactly what you want to say but can only communicate it in your native language!
All of these issues make the common tasks of settling in your new country even more difficult, such as securing work or housing, taking public transit, and even helping your children in school. So, what should you do? To help you out, we’ve compiled a list below of the best resources to learn and apply English in the United States.
ESL Programs in Schools
Public schools (which are open to everyone and are tuition-free because they are funded by the local, state, and federal governments) are required to offer English as a Second Language programs under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI protects people from discrimination based on race, color or national origin in programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Since public schools are federally funded, public school districts must provide equal educational opportunities for national origin minority students who have a limited proficiency in English. ESL support is often administered in one of two ways: either complete immersion in a full-English classroom or separate, targeted support for English language learners (ELLs). Since private schools rely on tuition instead of government funding, they are not required to provide ESL support to children whose native language is not English. ESL programs are also offered at the college, university, and community college level.
Though the topic of supporting ELLs and improving ESL programs is constantly being debated in America, it’s essential that you know your child’s basic rights to these programs while attending American schools.
Since its mass-market inception, the Internet has become a vital resource for ESL adopters. You can conveniently access numerous educational websites, apps, and videos on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Need to pass the time while waiting for your appointment at the doctor’s office? Access one of these apps on your smartphone and practice your ESL while you wait. The advantage to online resources is that they are right there with you wherever you go!
Another option for learning English is private instruction, which offers more flexibility in terms of scheduling and a more personal, hands-on experience. While adult education centers and independent language schools in your local community are often hubs for tutors, you can also check out sites such as Preply to search for and get matched with English tutors in your area. If you prefer in-person tutoring (post-pandemic), some instructors may also make house calls or meet with you at a local café.
One more option is to give us a call! Sign up for Golden Beacon USA’s ESL tutoring services where you can choose between a private or group (up to 4 students) session taught by Laura Marenco, our experienced TESOL-certified instructor with a background in Adult Education, Training, & Development. All ESL levels are welcome: from low beginner to advanced.
When choosing a tutor, remember to consider the following in addition to price:
- What are my goals in learning English? This will help match you with the tutor who is right for you.
- Where is the tutor from? American English differs from British and Australian English.
- What experience does the tutor have? Check if they have any ESL-related education or certifications.
Practice Anywhere and Everywhere
Finally, the only way to improve your English skills is to use them. So whether you are just starting out on your ESL journey or have made significant progress in reading, writing, and speaking English, don’t be afraid to practice it in everyday situations! Practice with the clerk at the grocery store, on the phone, or with your neighbors. There are plenty of opportunities to demonstrate to yourself and others what you have learned about the English language!
Looking for guidance on life in America in addition to ESL tutoring? Our website offers a comprehensive collection of products and services specifically for the U.S. immigrant population. Sign up for our weekly e-mails to receive our FREE ‘ABCs of the USA’ educational video series where we teach you all about American culture. And if you’re looking for a specific resource, purchase a Resources Referral package to help make the transition to America as easy as possible.
Contact me today at email@example.com or call or text (866) 403-7173. Remember, you are not alone!