We are not suggesting that, nowhere in the world are there any finer universities or institutes other than those in English-speaking countries.
However, according to the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, fourteen percent of all migrants come to the UK for educational opportunities.
The main reason people migrate to the UK is for work or better opportunities in their professional arena, for which they study business English. Learn about the benefits of learning business English here.
Without questioning anyone's motivation to do so, let's explore some of the reasons that people from all over the world choose to complete their tertiary and post-graduate work in schools that use English to teach.
ESOL Learners Coming to Britain to Learn English
Admittedly, the majority of immigrants are adults seeking better employment opportunities, with children who need to be educated.
Government immigration agencies often require proof of English language skills as part of their admission procedures.
Whether young children are also required to demonstrate any English speaking capability upon entering the country is not indicated.
However, a recently adjudicated case indicates that every adult seeking to stay in the country long-term must be able to express him-/herself in English, even if married to a British citizen, and have basic understanding of the language.
Given that immigrants must have mastered a certain level of English before being permitted into the country – for education or work, it seems counterintuitive that anyone would come to Britain to learn English.
Statistics show that the level of English taught in developing and under-developed countries targets criteria needed to pass exams, including Ielts and Toefl.
Everyday English is largely overlooked, and that is exactly the vernacular that immigrants most need to learn, and what they study once they've established themselves.
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Learning English as a Second Language
Regardless of the age of the student, the same basic aspects of language learning apply:
- verbs, their tenses and proper conjugation
- how to use adjectives and adverbs properly
- correct spelling
- grammar rules
- word order and sentence structure
- using proper punctuation
- speaking the language with proper tone and inflection
Students who arrive in Britain work very hard to master these facets of the language, as well as modern slang and idioms with the hope of matriculating at any of our universities or colleges.
The numbers don't lie! According to the UK Council for International Student Affairs, fully twenty percent of students enrolled at institutes of higher learning come from outside the UK.
English Learning Paves the Way
If you are one of many international students with eyes on UK universities, studying English in depth is the best way for you to achieve your goal.
Learning English as a foreign language in itself can be tricky, but especially so if the subject you are passionate about requires additional, specialized vocabulary, such as science or technology.
To earn a degree in these subjects and others from a UK university, you would have to master the vocabulary associated with the discipline, as well as attaining comprehension and being able to write about it in English.
Suppose sociology or anthropology fascinate you: the jargon related to those studies is not commonly used in everyday English. Here again, you would need a separate lexicon to qualify for enrollment.
Fortunately, you can improve your English and expand your vocabulary online, including adding specialized words for the major you choose.
Resources to Learn English Online
While the Internet abounds with materials to study English grammar and vocabulary, finding pages for learning English with regard to specific subjects can be frustrating... but it doesn't have to be.
The British Council will not fail you in your quest to master English.
They might not offer specialized vocabulary for the subject you intend to pursue, but their website presents grammar and vocabulary lessons as well as podcasts for you to sharpen your listening skills and increase your overall learning.
The Khan Academy offers free online tutorials via YouTube in subjects such as computer science, physics, chemistry, health and medicine, and higher math.
Their website hosts an expanded section on English grammar, from explanations of parts of speech and how to use them to a proper punctuation guide.
The best part about these tutorial videos – besides costing nothing, is that they challenge you to quizzes, after each segment and at the end of the section you are reviewing.
Beware that the Khan Academy posts videos using American English. Although words are more or less the same from one type of English to the next, the tone, accent and style of speaking is different than Oxford English.
In some cases, spelling is different as well: center v. centre, for example
The best way to benefit from both sites is to alternate listening to a British Council podcast with watching an educational video in American English.
Other Online English Materials?
Before we explore that topic, let us take a look at the latest Internet statistics, provided by the premier agency that tracks usage for every country with an Internet presence.
- Asia, with a touch over 55% of the world's population, accounts for the greatest number of Internet users.
- Europe has the second largest group of Internet users globally in spite of falling third on the list of overall population.
- Africa, with the second-highest population count after Asia, represents just under ten percent of the global Internet usage.
- North America, the continent where English is spoken the most, accounts for only 8.6% of global Internet traffic.
North America boasts the greatest percentage of global Internet penetration – the number of people who have access to the Internet.
It therefore stands to reason that the greatest number of websites present materials using the English language.
Even China's Alibaba, that country's giant of online sales, has an English version of their site in order to attract a larger share of the global E-commerce market.
That's not to say that other countries don't have great websites in their own language, but if we search for the most frequently used websites in Germany, for example, the top five addresses indicate English-language sites, albeit translated: Google, Amazon, Ebay and Wikipedia.
YouTube remains in its native language.
Culture, History and Statistics
If you are of a will to learn what you can about every country in the world – as well as practise your English reading skills, the Internet has several sites you can refer to, one of them being Wikipedia.
Another such site is Expatica, that is targeted to people who want to learn about different countries before moving there. Although their selection of profiles is limited to western Europe, you can learn essential information on living and working in their listed countries.
The only language that site publishes in is English.
If you would like an in-depth study of every country, you can refer to America's CIA website. They have a factbook with a page for every nation that includes transnational issues as well as relations with other countries.
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Cooking and Food
Are you interested in exploring the culinary arts?
You can improve your English vocabulary while learning new words relating to food and cooking. Web sites in English, detailing recipes for dishes from just about any country, abound!
You only need to conduct a search for the feast you wish to prepare. Upon finding it, a trip to the grocer's to buy the ingredients and you can call yourself a chef!
Be sure to practice your English conversation with the butcher while s/he weighs out your cuts.
Movies, Music and Other Entertainment
To be sure, streaming films and listening to music in English are great ways to learn and there are popular Web activities, and sites with such materials are plentiful.
That site does not have a live chat option but you can make friends with other language learners and invite them to chat with you on Skype.
Chatting with a native English speaker online could break conversation barriers that might otherwise prevent you from talking with people you meet around your neighbourhood.
Play Games Online
For Esl students, nothing beats playing word games to improve your vocabulary and spelling.
Esol teachers often conduct such activities in class and recommend follow-up exercises at home.
To heed such a recommendation, simply search for games you can play by yourself or by challenging other players.
One online activity that would give you a wide range of situations to practice your spoken English is Second Life, a site where you get to create a persona that engages in a virtual society.
A key aspect to this role-playing activity is socializing with other personae, and English is the predominant language.
Living a Second Life can help you learn new phrases and gain proficiency with reading and writing in the course of communicating with other characters.
English is your all-access pass to higher education, information and web-based entertainment.
What a great decision you made, to be an English learner!
Learn how to make English learning easy with our guide to simplifying ESOL courses.