Start studying now so you’ll be ready to prove you can handle anything in English.
If you’re applying to schools, then you probably already know how to study. But learning a language is a bit different than remembering historical dates or applying math formulas, and you’ll need to study in a more relevant way in order to pass the TOEFL or other language tests so you can get into the school of your dreams in the USA. Your goal should be to feel comfortable enough with English that if you’re stuck about how to say something then you can come up with another way to get the message across, and to be able to understand and then respond automatically without stopping to mentally translate in the middle.
Ways to study
- Learn: If your English is still at a basic level, take a class or use an app to learn additional vocabulary and general usage rules.
- Study: Learning a language isn’t always glamorous – sometimes you’ll have to actually study. Get the test-prep book for your specific exam, make flashcards, and memorize some things to make sure you know grammar and spelling rules, basic colors and foods and other daily words, and tenses.
- Immerse: Immersion is the best way to learn how native speakers actually use their language – slang, appropriate terms and usage, word combinations, and pronunciations are never included in textbooks. Since you can’t yet legally move to the USA, take a vacation to an English-speaking country and talk to the locals. Or for a cheaper method, find some English-speaking tourists in your home city and have a conversation with them. Either way, you’ll both learn how native English speakers sound and also get feedback on your own English-speaking abilities.
- Watch: The key to watching English-speaking tv shows, movies, and videos is to make sure they’re not dubbed so you actually hear English! Whether your version has subtitles in your native language so you can compare or you watch with no native-language safety net, you’ll pick up lots of vocabulary, word combinations, and slang.
- Read: Reading in another language is almost like learning yet another new language. Written texts can be more complicated, with more difficult words, more complicated syntax, and more poetic language generally not used in speech. Start slow with children’s books in English, and then read magazines, newspapers, blog posts, books, etc. to fully understand how language is used in multiple contexts.
- Write: Language tests usually have a writing section, and you obviously need to pass them. Plus, once you start school you’ll have to write anyway, since you’ll have to deal with assignments, emails to professors, and tests. If you’re not creative enough to write a short story, you can practice by writing about your day, writing a letter or email to your friend, writing birthday cards, or writing your shopping list.
- Listen: If you want to challenge yourself, listen to the radio, podcasts, or even songs in English. Even if you’re comfortable talking to someone in English or watching your favorite sitcom without subtitles, it’s much harder to follow if you can’t see the speaker’s lips moving.
- Translate: If you feel pretty confident about your English-speaking skills, translate something in your native language into English. Pick your favorite song, a short article, or love letters from an old partner written in your native language and do your best to translate it into English.