Are you interested in learning English?

Maybe you have dreams of immigrating to an English-speaking country, finding a fantastic international job or continuing your studies towards a degree at a prestige English University? Even if you have aspirations to travel and see the world, English proficiency is something that will help you in working towards achieving your dreams.

English is the most spoken language if you combine native and English second language speakers across the globe.

The biggest challenge for most English second language learners is their limited exposure and accessibility to the language. Whether you are looking for English tutoring because you come from a non-English speaking country or have been speaking a different language your entire life, ESL (English Second Language) classes will help you to not only converse comfortably in English, you will also get to work on your reading and writing skills.

English is also known as the international business language and might be a requirement for the next step in your professional career.

We've done a bit of research to get you started on finding the best ESL teachers, ESOL Courses (English to Speakers of Other Languages) or English Language Schools in Pietermaritzburg. We’ve also included some handy tips to get your English learning journey off on a good start.

Love English
The more you learn about English, the more you will discover how rich and layered it is and the more you'll fall in love with it - Image by Pixabay on Pexels

Not Having Matric (senior certificate) or University Exemption in South Africa

People’s motivations for wanting to learn English is generally because they have future ambitions that require a certain level of proficiency in the English language. This can be tough for those who don’t have English as a home language or did their secondary school in a different language.

To make this even more challenging, the universities and technical colleges list that part of their admission requirements is full university exemption, which means a good pass mark in secondary school, plus proficiency in English.

Having academic literacy in English is not always enough, and you should have great English writing, speaking and comprehension skills if you have your heart set on a degree in an English country.

A lot of people had to deal with circumstances and difficulties beyond their control. They were forced to drop out of school, have an incomplete national certificate or failed matric the previous year. Unfortunately, a lot of this was because they didn’t receive the correct guidance and support, whether emotionally, financially or intellectually, to complete their studies.

Luckily, if this is you, there are a couple of options and routes of study towards your national certificate, regardless of your reasons. Those who haven’t got their senior certificate can do adult matric or an Amended Senior Certificate (ASC) programme. A programme offered by College SA, Oxford Academy or Matric Works that takes students through 11 subjects in preparation for their examination.

South Africa is a popular destination for International learners.

Unfortunately, if you are from another non-English speaking country, you won’t be able to do one of these programs as they are only for South African Students over the age of 21. International students can, however, apply for world-class bridging diplomas, certificates or diploma courses as offered by a lot of colleges and universities.

The learning institution or the individual learner might have to verify the student’s high school qualification for foreign exemption certificates. The matriculation board of South Africa has a list of countries and the subjects or qualifications they deem equivalent to the South African National certificate. You can find these on their website and the admissions counsellor at the place where you plan to study will also be able to provide more details around application requirements.

If you want to study in another country, or apply for immigration, you would most probably require the verification of your qualifications - Image by Ekrulila on Pexels

Language Schools to Research

Your ability to comfortably converse in English will not only help you navigate most English countries with much greater ease, it’ll be an investment that will continue to assist you in your entire future and career.

English is known as the international language of business. Most meetings, documents and presentations are conducted in English which means that English language skills become imperative if you plan to climb the corporate ladder one day.

Language schools are ideal if you want to approach your studies in a more relaxed way. They usually have smaller classes than public universities and a more hands-on approach.

An English school would be ideal if you want to study English for one of the following reasons:

  • To prepare for entrance into any higher education institution (like a college or university)
  • Need to improve English skills for business reasons
  • Travel for work or leisure purposes
  • You are looking for a ‘cheaper’ option than a university
  • You want to learn English grammar and the complex rules around the English language

Online research will expose you to some of the Language schools you can find in Pietermaritzburg. The KZN Language Institute offer English second language students the option of formal full-time English intensives, online or in-person, but they also have some excellent English supplementary programs or part-time programs that looks at an integrative English skills approach.

Unfortunately, Pietermaritzburg has less formal language colleges than the bigger South African cities. This doesn’t mean that you cannot learn English in Pietermaritzburg as you can opt for a multitude of other ways to study English.ic

Online studies, correspondence studies and private teaching or lecturers provides ample of opportunity for students to develop their English second language.

They can also help you prepare for international language exams like IELTS (International English Language Test Standard) and TOEFL (Test of English for Foreign Language speakers), usually required to prove your language proficiency for university acceptance or immigration. Even if you are completely comfortable with the English language, ensure you understand the structure of these exams as they approach the reading, writing, listening and speaking tests with a set approach.

Getting help with English
An English tutor can help with the frustrations you might experience with tenses and complicated verb usage - Image by Siora on Unsplash

Online or Correspondence Studies & Qualifications

More and more tertiary institutions are realizing that online studies allow people the opportunity to study the way they would like to. Generally, they will have online modules with questionnaires, videos, classes or online support sessions provided by English teachers.

To study full-time is also not always financially viable for a lot of students and online or correspondence studies provides the flexible opportunity for stay-at-home parents or those who prefer to work while studying, the option to complete a qualification while they attend to the other matters they have to.

College teachers and faculty usually support and guide students as they practise and learn how to speak English fluently. They help English learners with things like the intonation, pronunciation, diction and other important aspects that ensure they speak English comfortably.

But what if you study online or you don't have a great faculty to support you in your speaking practice?

ESL learning frustrations
A tutor is the ideal supplement to help you with your ESL studies and frustrations - Image by Jeshoots-com on Unsplash

Learning English with a Private Tutor

A private tutor, like the ones you can search, view and contact on Superprof, is the perfect supplement for those who are learning to speak English as a second language.

Private tutors can customise your learning plan according to your needs. If you want to improve your English reading and writing, they’ll give you exercises and interactive methods to use as you gradually work your way towards English fluency.

They will have guided English conversations with you where you’ll get to practise and improve your English speaking, but most of the tutors also have the required knowledge to provide and teach you about the real game-changer in understanding English - the ability to fully understand the rules around the language. They can provide you with the skills that is generally covered during most English language courses which includes:

  • English grammar
  • English vocabulary (words and common phrases)
  • Verbs, nouns, tenses
  • English pronunciation (how you say it) and phrases
Explore English
An English tutor will help you discover the English language in new and exciting ways - Image by Amanda Jones on Unsplash

Start to Improve Your English today

There’s absolutely no reason why you need to wait until you arrive in a big city before you start to learn English. Start today by exposing yourself more to the English language and the biggest advice we can give any English second language learner would be to develop an interest and curiosity about it.

Here are a couple of ideas on how you can start on improving your English today:

  1. Read, read, read and then read some more. Grab the nearest English newspaper, book, textbook or magazine to get exposure to the language. It will help you to expand your English vocabulary or learn new English words. You can also google the unfamiliar words and terms and online dictionaries provide some useful sound clips to help you with the pronunciation.
  2. Apply the language rules and whatever you learn immediately by speaking English every day. Make English friends or find an English study partner. The best way to learn how to speak English is through the practical application and you can even write letters and provide feedback to each other on them.
  3. Allocate a set amount of time to work on your English, maybe starting off with an hour a day, you will ensure you keep on learning and progressing. An hour a day might not sound like a lot, but the frequency and familiarity you build with the English language will speed-up your learning process.
  4. Watch English movies and try to repeat the sentences and phrases out loud. Record yourself while you try and mimic the exact sounds and listen back to find out where and how you can improve.
  5. If you know you struggle with certain aspects around your English speaking and you don’t have an English tutor yet, you can google for Youtube videos or tutorials on how to fix these. A lot of language teachers will break down the phonetics around the way words are being said and provide an explanation that’s easy to follow.
Read in English
Reading English books will help you to expand your vocabulary in a fun way - Image by Daniel on Unsplash

Whether you choose to study English at a college, university, on your own or with the help of a tutor, the English language is something that’s interesting, challenging and used by millions of people across the globe.

Good luck with your English studies. We hope you get to enjoy the wonders of speaking English fluently in no time.

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Writer and qualified yoga instructor, who is passionate about health and well-being.