The English Language is nobody’s special property. It is the property of the imagination: it is the property of the language itself.” – Derek Walcott

There were 974,926 international students enrolled at U.S. universities throughout the academic year 2014-15. According to the Institute of International Education (IIE), 126,016 of these students were in pursuit of Intensive English Language programs in the world’s most popular overseas study destination.

While it is possible to develop sound English proficiency in non-English speaking countries, the academic advantages are significantly less. Previous studies have shown that people who learn language through the immersion method produce brain waves similar to those produced by native speakers of that language, both lexically and grammatically.

Credit: Kennesaw State University

Scientific study has shown that the total immersion in a culture that speaks English is the most favorable way for English Language Learners to acquire the Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP), on top of the Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS), required to thrive at an American university, and beyond into a successful career.

Additionally, English Language programs in the U.S. stick to an established curriculum that falls in line with the most current and beneficial practices for second language acquisition.

But with so many esteemed providers of ESL tuition in the United States, how should students decide upon the course best suited to them? We already know that the best method for learning English is through immersion, so a good place to start might be to pinpoint the institutions providing intensive, immersive curriculums.

Credit: University of Oregon

The English Language Institute (ELI) at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) provides a world-leading English program that perfectly blends language with American culture – all at excellent value for money. The cost of English Language tuition at UNK is the lowest in Nebraska’s entire university system.

UNK is home to around 7,000 students, with more than 500 hailing from countries outside the U.S. The university offers extensive provisions of more than 200 majors and minors, and the prestigious ELI welcomes students from all four corners of the globe to become part of a dynamic, student-centered institution.

Students at ELI take courses designed on an intensive immersion schedule of 18 class hours per week. The program is focused on all four language skills; reading, writing, listening and speaking, and students are tested on the very first day of the semester to determine the appropriate level of study.

Classes are small and inclusive, with approximately 12 students per class, meaning each individual gets the necessary support when tackling difficult linguistical elements, such as grammar and vocabulary. Each international ELI student is assigned a ‘Conversation Partner’, a native-English speaking student with whom they meet for casual conversation at least six times a semester. Not only does this develop fluency and general comprehension, it also gives ELI students the chance to delve into American culture alongside an indigenous peer who can soon be considered a friend.

One of the major benefits for ELI students at UNK is that they can take advantage of all the university’s state-of-the-art facilities; these include the library, computer labs, healthcare center, recreation areas, counselling center, career services, the Nebraskan Student Union, the cafeterias and on-campus restaurants, on top of round-the-clock access to immigration advice form the institution’s dedicated International Student Services.

Credit: University of Nebraska at Kearney

The course is ideal for qualified students who would like to learn English at a mid-sized university in the Midwest where the aim is on teaching and learning in a safe, nurturing environment.

“Kearney, Nebraska, is known as one of the best places in the Midwest to live, and we enjoy strong support from the city and surrounding area,” says Douglas Kristensen, Chancellor of UNK.

Kearney is situated along the Platte River on The Great American Plains. This means all ELI students can enjoy the wonders of the Missouri River and the Rocky Mountains in the “heartland of America”, known for its endless stretch of grasslands and stunning rolling hills. Kearney is also recognised around the world as the migratory route for cranes, eagles, ducks, geese and shore birds, meaning nature, and all the inspiration that comes along with it, is never too far away for students at UNK.

Overall, Kearney offers overseas students “the good life”: fresh air, big skies and sensational sunsets all from within a clean, safe and homely environment. International students who opt for an intensive English education from UNK’s ELI give themselves the best chance to master the intricacies of the world’s most influential language, by immersing themselves in the community, the conversation, and above all, the American spirit.

Credit: South Dakota State University

Read on to learn more about the U.S. institutions offering Immersive English Language programs:

UNK is committed to providing an outstanding education in a personal, student-centered setting. Located in Kearney, Nebraska, a safe and welcoming city of 33,000 friendly people, UNK is an excellent place to improve English Language skills. Students will experience traditional American culture while learning standard English without regional accents or dialects; the English heard on national television and radio news. Students at UNK’s English Language Institute (ELI) spend 20 hours per week in small, inclusive classes dedicated to the skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening, while focusing on grammar difficulties and vocabulary expansion. Students are tested on the very first day of the semester to determine their level of study and allow qualified instructors to personalize the individual’s program accordingly. Students at UNK’s ELI come from all around the globe to become part of this tight-knit American community.

The University of Oregon is a prestigious member of the Association of American Universities – one of only 36 elite public universities committed to scientific exploration and interdisciplinary research. Oregon’s American English Institute (AEI) serves the educational mission of the University through scholarship, English language instruction, and English language professional training. The AEI champions internationalization and is a leader in helping achieve the university’s goals for diversity and student success. The AEI supports the integration of international students into all aspects of campus life, and collaborates with faculty across campus toward creating a successful academic experience for all international students.

Kennesaw State University is renowned for its entrepreneurial spirit and sense of community. Offering campuses in Marietta and Kennesaw, the university is located just north of Atlanta and combines a suburban setting with access to one of the country’s most dynamic cities. At the ESL Center, KSU IEP, undergraduate, and graduate international students can receive tutoring in writing, reading, pronunciation, and presentation skills, as well as receive advice for their general education (core) requirements and mentoring. 

The University of Missouri is the state’s largest and most comprehensive university, providing more than 300 degree programs – including 89 online options – through 18 colleges and schools, and is one of only six public universities nationwide that can claim a medical school, veterinary medicine college and a law school on the same campus. Missouri’s Center for English Language Learning (CELL) offers non-native speakers of English a high quality program of intensive English training. It is designed to provide individuals with the English language skills necessary to successfully study for an academic degree at a U.S. university.

South Dakota State University is the state’s largest university, providing world-class academics and outstanding opportunities. Students can explore American culture, develop academic English proficiency, and learn to communicate with confidence at South Dakota State’s English Language & Culture Institute (ELCI), which prepares ambitious students for the rigors of post-secondary academics. Students are challenged to think beyond simply building language skills to embrace the attitude of learning.