Making friends is your single most effective tool for learning a foreign language. The difficulty of finding speakers of the language you’re trying to master when you’re in your home country can make this an unrealistic challenge, but here you are trying to learn English in an English-speaking country, so take advantage of it! Here are a few ways to make friends:
- Join a club
There are all kinds of clubs in any small or medium-sized city, so look for something that interests you. You could join a book club, a chess club, a gardening club, a dance class, or a gym class. Of course, you will need to talk to the people in your club to fully enjoy this situation, so don’t hesitate to ask someone you like for a cup of coffee or invite them to dinner.
There are many volunteering opportunities that will combine doing good for the community with meeting new people. You can participate in a soup kitchen, join your local temple, mosque or church, or volunteer at the library. In all these circumstances, you should be able to meet people and use your English.
- Meet your neighbors
Neighborhoods in the U.S. may seem like blocks of closed doors, but with a little effort you will discover that most people want to have a good relationship with their neighbors. The best way to meet your neighbors is to take them a pie, cookies, or a dish from your country. Introduce yourself and your family if you have one. Invite them over for coffee or dinner. You can even be the one to organize a block party—your neighbors will probably be thrilled!
You may think that making friends in a foreign country is too hard a task, but most people want to know you and learn about your culture as much as you want to know them. For someone who’s never travelled, meeting a person from another country is like going on a little adventure, so don’t be shy! Get out there and enjoy showing local people all you have to offer!
There’s no substitute for taking a class to learn a language, but certain habits in your daily life will drive home the learning and allow you to practice, improve, and enjoy your gains! Follow these five tips to enjoy English more now.
- Keep a vocabulary notebook
Keeping a vocabulary notebook can help expand your vocabulary and enrich your writing and speaking. Write down at least 5 new words a day. These can come from reading, listening or vocabulary lists. If you’re studying for an exam, find a list of academic words to develop. If you’re just learning for your own use, pick up words from the newspaper, novels or TV shows. You can even focus on specific parts of speech, like verb lists or adjective lists. And don’t forget to review them! Set aside five minutes in the morning or evening to go over your new words and practice them in speech and writing!
- Read for pleasure
Reading for pleasure is one of the best ways to broaden your vocabulary and think in your target language. Visit the library and look up topics that interest you, like gardening or music. The Young Adult section (YA) is a great place to find easier to read novels and nonfiction too. Ask the librarian for recommendations and be sure to tell them what kinds of books you usually enjoy reading in your own language or have read in the past. Of course, if you’re at a beginning level you can check out the children’s section which has many books on various topics as well as beautiful fiction and simply told fairy tales.
- Watch for pleasure
If you really want to get used to hearing English speakers using natural English, watch movies, TV or Youtube videos for pleasure. Don’t get sucked into watching with subtitles in your own language—these will distract you from listening to the target language. On the other hand, subtitles in English can help you follow along and break down the slang native speakers are using on the screen. Better yet, watch with your host family or an English-speaking friend and then set aside some time to discuss in English about what you watched. This will allow you to use the vocabulary and expressions you learned.
- Keep a journal
In order to develop fluency in your English language writing, keep a journal in English. This will also expand your ability to think in English and talk about your daily life and the things that mean something to you. Keeping a diary is like talking about what matters, only slower. Write with a dictionary (not a translator) and look up word by word expressions or vocabulary that you’re unsure of. The more you write, the easier it will be to write, and the broader your conversation topics will become.
Get out into the city a little bit and explore! Even small and medium-sized cities have many things to do, including festivals, food trucks, cafes and restaurants. Starting with festivals, there is often live music, dancing, artisan gifts from local artists, as well as food, drinks and desserts for hot weather or cold. Most cities attract a diversity of residents, so the festivals will reflect that, with arts, crafts, music and food from a variety of national traditions. Enjoy it!
Living in a foreign country, it’s easy to feel like you go to class, go home, do homework and sleep, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Making English part of your daily habits can expand your horizons and allow you to integrate more fully into the culture you’re visiting. Keeping a vocabulary notebook, reading and watching for pleasure, keeping a diary and exploring your city will push you into an immersive experience with English that will change you and allow the language to be a permanent and rewarding part of your life.
American Language Academy (ALA) is providing many types of experiential, extracurricular, social, and recreational events for students, especially as COVID-19 restrictions have eased.
During the 2022-2023 academic year ALA students have taken field trips to the Greensboro Science Center and the Downtown Greensboro History Museum. In the past ALA students have gone to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, Greensboro Cultural Center, Greensboro Fire Department, Heritage Greens Assisted Living Facility, Guilford Battleground Military Park & Court House, and more. These kinds of trips allow students to learn about the culture and history of Greensboro, the city that most of them live in while doing their Academic English training.
ALA also provides social activities for students. Since January 2023, ALA has hosted a Lunar New Year party, End of Ramadan party, a few student birthday celebrations, small parties during the lunch period, and a breakfast and movie morning. These social activities bring the students, faculty, and staff together as a community and facilitate friendships and English-led dialogue. These student-formed friendships have resulted in students getting together for recreational off-campus activities that include meeting up at local restaurants and arcades such as Round1 Bowling & Amusement located across the street from ALA. These activities allow for students to practice their English language and social skills on and off campus.
In addition, ALA’s Program Director and Academic team are consistently monitoring local Triad events for students to attend after class and on the weekend, so that they have a variety of opportunities through which to immerse themselves in Greensboro and American culture. Some local Greensboro events have included food truck festivals, intercultural community festivals, state fairs, music and film festivals, holiday festivals, and much more. With Greensboro conveniently located in North Carolina, students can also take day trips to the beach or mountains just a few hours away on either side.
Whether on campus or off, ALA students have a wide array of experiential, extracurricular, social, and recreational activities that help them bond with other students while learning English and enjoying American culture and activities.
Contact us for more information about ALA!
On June 5, 2017, Yuni Nguyen, President of the American Language Academy (ALA) visited the Xi’an International University (XAIU). Ms. Nguyen met with Guo Xinhua, Dean of International Cooperation and Director of International Center, Geoffrey K. Tsang, Vice Director for International Programs, International Center Associate Dean, College of International Cooperation and several members of their staff. The meeting was arranged by Tang Cai, China Program Coordinator. for the American Language Academy.
XAIU is located in the heart of Xi’an and boasts two beautiful campuses totaling 135 hectares, a student population in excess of 23,000, and faculty and staff of over 1,500. The University includes 11 colleges with 34 departments offering a total of 101 major fields of study, which cover economics, humanities, management, engineering, agriculture, medicine and law. It has grown into a multi-discipline and multi-layer comprehensive university.
The XAIU Deans are interested in both teacher training and the possibility of an International ALA operation headquartered at XAIU. Further, ALA and XAIU will establish a framework whereby ALA will act as a bridge to help XAIU establish degree programs with appropriate ALA pathway partners. ALA has pathway agreements with 74 US universities and colleges.
On June 1, 2017, Yuni Nguyen, President of the American Language Academy, met with Professor Tao Yu, Dean of the International Education Department at the Zhejiang Institute of Mechanical & Electrical Engineering (ZIME) and Dr. Susan Jagendorf-Sobierski, Executive Director of International Education at SUNY Cobleskill . The three educators discussed the potential for the American Language Academy to assist the two universities as they prepare students to maximize their level of English language knowledge. ZIME’s and SUNY’s Path Pro Program offers Chinese students a range of options for academic and career development beyond the vocational education students receive in China. Path Pro provides those students with accredited outcomes that will be recognized by 4-year U.S. universities and colleges toward bachelor degrees.
ALA’s Intensive English Program serves as a bridge spanning the first two years of an undergraduate dual degree program between the native country school and the last two years at an American institution. We ensure that students have both the requisite language and academic skills.
The ALA Online Leadership Team is comprised of dedicated professionals who have years of experience with English language instruction, program development, and business management. The Leadership Team ensures that English language classes offered at ALA provide the highest quality content (ESL English) using the most up-to-date innovations in English language teaching methodology and technology. They also help maintain ALA’s CEA accreditation.
ALA online English teachers all have extensive experience teaching English and all want their students to be more confident speakers, readers, writers, and listeners of the English language when they finish ALA’s English program. Our English instructors care about their students’ success. Many of ALA’s English language learners stay in touch with their English teachers throughout their lives. If you want extra practice, most of our English language instructors are available for private lessons to help you with a specific subject.
When English language learners take place in online English learning at ALA, they will:
- Learn from quality English as a Second Language instructors who have many years of experience and can help you learn American English quickly.
- Have the option to schedule private lessons on any English or professional subject with your English language teachers.
- Stay in touch with some of your academic English instructors after you finish your English language classes at ALA and return home.
ALA is committed to preparing English language learners for life after ALA. One way of doing this is the ALA College Fair. ALA is partnered with several colleges and universities throughout America. This allows ALA’s international English language learners to transition from ALA into institutions of higher education, to pursue their career goals and aspirations. ALA is now partnered with 21 colleges and universities that include Salem College, Greensboro College, ECPI, and Full Sail University among lots of others; with degrees that range from the medical industry to media arts and plenty of others.
ALA’s college fair, held two or three times a year, affords English language learners the opportunity to meet with representatives from ALA’s partner schools and find out more about the programs of studies offered. English as a Second language learners can get questions answered about admission requirements (ALA certifications, ILETS scores, TOEFL scores, etc.). ALA English language learner students can get a feel for the various academic programs that the partner schools offer and what ALA students can bring to the various partner colleges and universities to prepare for their lives after ALA and college.
On Wednesday, June, 21 2017, American Language Academy (ALA) entered a Memorandum of Understanding for English Language Instruction Programs with Bennett College located in Greensboro, North Carolina, which will be in effect through Spring 2020.
The agreement was signed by both American Language Academy President Yuni Nguyen and Bennett College President Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins on Bennett’s campus. The agreement allows ALA students who want to enroll at Bennett College the opportunity to demonstrate their English language proficiency through graduation from ALA’s Intensive English Program Level 5 course instead of by meeting the TOEFL, IELTS, or another English standardized test score requirement. Bennett will also provide a residential and cultural component to what ALA currently provides to its students in the Greensboro area.
Serving students for over 140 years, Bennett College was founded in 1873 as a historically black coed institution. In 1926 in it became a women’s only college. Since then, Bennett’s mission had been to provide “women an education conducive to excellence in scholarly pursuits; preparation for leadership roles in the workplace, society, and the world; and life-long learning in a technologically advanced, complex global society” (Bennett College).
Bennett offers 24 different areas of study in the fields of Education, Social Sciences, Humanities, and in Natural and Behavioral Sciences and Mathematics.
The addition of Bennett College brings the total number of ALA partner colleges and universities to over 75.
For more information about Bennett College go to www.bennett.edu or contact ALA at email@example.com, or visit our Student Services office.
American Language Academy (ALA) has entered a Memorandum of Understanding for English Language Instruction Programs with Walsh University located in North Canton, Ohio. The agreement was signed by ALA President Yuni Nguyen and Walsh University’s Assistant Director of International Admissions Zachary Basel.
The agreement allows ALA students who want to enroll at Walsh University the opportunity to demonstrate their English language proficiency through graduation from ALA’s Intensive English Program Level 5 course instead of by meeting the TOEFL, IELTS, or another English standardized test score requirement. Walsh University will also provide conditional letters of admission for students seeking to attend the university after finishing their studies at ALA.
Walsh University was founded in 1960 and has been serving students for over 60 years. Walsh University offers an array of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as online and accelerated programs. Students can choose fields of study in Education, Business and Finance, Engineering, Humanities, Pre-Medicine and Nursing, Science, Computer Science and Cybersecurity, and more.
For more information about Walsh University go to www.walsh.edu/international-admissions.html or contact ALA at firstname.lastname@example.org, 336-285-7318, or visit our Student Services office on campus.
On Friday, April 24, 2019, American Language Academy (ALA) entered a Memorandum of Understanding for English Language Instruction Programs with the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG) located in Greensboro, North Carolina. The agreement was signed by ALA President Yuni Nguyen, UNCG Provost Dana Dunn PhD, and UNCG Director of International Recruitment Carol Mandzik.
The agreement allows ALA students who want to enroll at UNCG the opportunity to demonstrate their English language proficiency through graduation from ALA’s Intensive English Program Level 5 course instead of by meeting the TOEFL, IELTS, or another English standardized test score requirement. UNCG will also provide conditional letters of admission for students seeking to attend the university after finishing their studies at ALA.
UNCG was founded in 1891 and has been serving students for over 125 years. UNCG offers an array of on-campus and online degree programs in the fields of Science, Math, Business and Finance, Arts and Music, Humanities, Education, Information Systems, Public Health, Social Sciences, History, Culture, and Diversity Studies, and more. With over a hundred majors and minors to choose from, students have many educational and career possibilities.