Some of the most popular international study destinations are the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. And seeing as English is the most widely-spoken lingua franca and medium of instruction in most universities in these countries, it is of utmost importance that potential international students are fluent in both spoken and written English. If you need help brushing up on your English language skills, don't worry! SchoolApply is partnered with various pathway providers worldwide that support international students in overcoming the English language barrier before they can start their university studies.

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English Proficiency Tests

Another reason you should brush up on your language skills is because, even if universities don’t conduct an entrance exam, you can be sure that unless you’re a native English speaker, you will be required to sit for an English proficiency test of some sort.

Two of the most common English proficiency tests are, the TOEFL: the test of English as a foreign language; and IELTS: the international English language testing system.

The TOEFL consists of four sections and is scored on a 0-120 point scale. The average score required by universities in the United States is approximately 80 points. The IELTS exam also contains four sections and is scored on a band system, with one band meaning the user has no knowledge of English, whereas 9 bands imply that the person is an expert in the language. The average band requirement for universities in the United Kingdom is 5.5 to 6 out of 9, in all the four modules as well as the overall score. Both exams test a student’s ability in reading, speaking, listening and writing.

While it’s important to elevate your level of English to achieve the necessary score in these tests, having a reasonable command over the English language goes beyond this. Knowing the language will be imperative once you begin to navigate through life at university, in order to fully understand the crux of the syllabus. the knowledge being imparted, as well in order to ensure academic excellence. 

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Tips to Improve your English-language Skills

There are four facets of learning or mastering a language: speaking, writing, reading and being able to listen and understand when the language is being spoken.

Here are a few ways in which you can improve your language skills.

One of the few tried and tested techniques to learn the language includes watching movies and programs in English, preferably ones with subtitles. This is a great way to amass a wealth of new vocabulary, learn the correct pronunciation of words and ways in which they can be used.

Another method is to include some form of reading into your daily routine. For this, you don’t have to solely rely on heavy materials such as journals and newspapers; reading can be recreational as well. Every well written piece will lend a helping hand. Keeping a dual language dictionary is essential while reading, to make sure you can whip out the meaning of any strange word that you come across.

I would like to reiterate the cliché ‘practice makes perfect’, you won’t progress unless you’re being consistent in your attempts. Daily actions such as speaking to your family and close friends in English or going down to your local coffee place or favourite restaurant and practicing ordering food in English or even penning down your thoughts and daily occurrences can go a long way.

So long as you’re making small conscious and consistent efforts, your living and studying experience in an English speaking country will be quite enjoyable.If you need additional support with improving your English skills, consider enrolling in one of the English language pathway programs that you can apply for only with SchoolApply. 

About the Writer: Mariam Khawer is an Accounts and Finance graduate with a passion for the creative arts.