There is no doubt that the ability to speak and write English fluently opens doors for people. Employers and colleges will always choose the articulate candidate who can write well over one with inadequate language skills. In addition, a well-read person who understands and can discuss literature tends to be viewed as a critical thinker. One way to ensure that you have an impressive command of the English language is to take an English course.
There are many different kinds of English courses, depending on what you need. Some are designed to teach English to those learning it as a second language, while others are geared toward helping native speakers improve their speaking or writing skills. Some English courses will teach you how to speak English conversationally, while others will teach you a more academic English and focus on the intricacies of grammar and vocabulary. Still other classes may prepare you to pass academic tests.
One of the most popular English courses today is the English as a Second Language/English as a foreign language (ESL/EFL) course. These courses focus on helping non-native speakers better understand and speak the English language. Conversational English, as well as understanding idioms and colloquialisms, usually form the core of most ESL/EFL courses.
Especially common are English courses that introduce students to literature. Colleges and universities typically offer these courses, though you can also find them online. These classes can have a broad or specific focus. You can study literature produced during a specific time in history, works written by a single author, or literature that reflects a similar theme. These types of English courses are not concerned with teaching you to speak English fluently, but instead focus on teaching you to read, think, and write critically through your analysis of literature.
You can also take an English course to prepare you for specific tests, such as the General Educational Development (GED) test, the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The GED measures high school-level skills and knowledge, and most colleges and employers consider a passing score the equivalent of a high-school diploma. The GRE is a test required by graduate and business schools to ensure that you have the critical reading, thinking, and writing skills to succeed in an advanced academic setting. The TOEFL measures your ability to use and understand English in an academic setting. It is considered a sort of “academic passport” to working and studying abroad. An English course can prepare you to earn a passing score on these tests, which can open many academic and professional doors.
English courses range from beginning to advanced and may last a few weeks, a semester, or up to a year. Some courses may even be self-paced, so you can take as long as you want to complete them. You can take a web-based course, attend a local class, hire a tutor, or learn on your own using a reputable study guide. It can be especially fun to take an English course online, since you are likely to “meet” people from all over the world.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these types of courses. Taking a class or working with a tutor will enable you to receive personal guidance and feedback. Particularly in a course focused on literature, a classroom setting will enable you to discuss the works with others before writing about them on your own. For many working adults, who may also be raising a family, the convenience of an online course or home study guide may be necessary. If you have a learning disability, or have limited time, a self-paced course may be more appropriate.
English courses also vary widely in cost. Some courses are offered as a free service to the community. Many libraries have English course home study guides that you can check out for no cost. In general, a one-month community-based course is going to cost considerably less than a course offered through a university, which can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Do not assume that expensive always means better; an inexpensive or free study guide may serve your needs better than a costly college course.
There are dozens of reasons a person may need to take an English class. Whether you need to pass the GED, want to learn English as a second language, need to learn proper English for business, or just want to understand Shakespeare, an English course can ensure you have the skills you need to succeed personally and professionally.