U.S. universities look at various factors while making admission decisions. One of the important parameters is the applicant’s proficiency in communicating in American English. The English language proficiency, which includes written and spoken skills, is assessed at different stages during the U.S. university admission process.
The application form and the essay writing section is your first opportunity to impress the admission officer with your fluency in English. The next stage is the interview, where you are evaluated on your ability to speak American English.
As an international student applying to a U.S. university, you will also have to submit a score on one of the popular English proficiency language tests. The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is designed to test how well a person from a non-English speaking country speaks, reads, writes, and comprehends American English. Including a TOEFL score in your application to a U.S university will give you a higher chance of success compared to another applicant who has not taken the TOEFL. Another popular English language proficiency test accepted at U.S. universities is the IELTS ( International English Language Testing System).
It is nerve wrecking to be judged on the ability to speak and write a language that is not your native language. Although improving your American English is not an impossible task, you will certainly need to make a concerted effort towards achieving that goal. Here are eight tips to help you get started.
- Subscribe to reputed U.S. news magazines and websites
Read American news magazines and websites such as Time, Huffington Post, the New York Times, Washington Post, Daily News and the Wall Street Journal. Read aloud the news content and then try to summarize what you have read in your own words. If you find yourself fumbling for words, look up an online dictionary for translation from Mandarin to English.
- Watch American television shows
In your spare time, watch American television shows. View different categories of American television programs, for instance, comedy, drama, action, sports broadcasts, and documentaries. Watching the shows will improve your grasp of American English, as well as help build your vocabulary.
- Make a word list
As you watch the television shows and read popular American news websites, make a note of the words and expressions that are unfamiliar and add them to a word list. Make a conscious effort to learn at least five new English words every day. To ensure easy access, save the word list on your smartphone. You could also use an English dictionary app to learn new words and save them for easy reference.
- Practice writing
The more you write in English, the better you will get. Set a goal to write 400 to 500 words in English every day for a month. Pick any topic of your choice – it could be a random thought, a description of what you did for the day, or an opinion on the stories making the headlines. The idea is to write in English.
- Speak deliberately and be a better listener
Listen to yourself as you speak English, and try to incorporate the new words you have learnt. Pay attention when others around you talk in English. You may learn a new word or phrase, or be reminded of a word that you haven’t used for sometime.
- Share your goal with people around you
Let friends, colleagues, and family know that you are on a mission to improve your English language proficiency. Converse as much as possible with them in English. You may find that someone in your social circle also wants to improve their English language skills, and you can work together towards that common goal. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes while communicating in English, at the same time make an effort to correct your errors.
- Travel to the U.S
Put your English language skills to the test by travelling to the U.S, either as a tourist or as a student for a short course. Whether it’s visiting the mall or going to college, staying in the U.S. will give you ample opportunities to practice your American English.
- Seek professional help
If you want to improve your English in the shortest possible time, take the help of a professional English coach who has experience in training students for U.S. university admissions. The Eagle Pathways essay writing and interview coaching team consists of alumni who have worked as certified teachers, professors, and former admissions officers at reputed U.S schools such as Stanford, Vanderbilt, Georgetown, Boston University, Washington University and UCLA.
Our U.S. based English writing and speaking coaches use language-training techniques that have been used by companies such as IBM and General Electric (GE). Our trademark ApplyWrite (university application and essay writing) and preVIEW (interview preparation) programs are designed to give you the confidence to express yourself in written and spoken English.
Contact us for more information on how we can help you improve your American English and realize your goal of studying at a reputed U.S. University.