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One billion! That’s the number of people who are currently learning English across the world. The popularity of English is further strengthened by the fact that many multinational companies, such as Airbus, Nokia and Samsung, are making use of English as their corporate language. This is in their quest to facilitate communication as well as performance, across borders where their workforce has to perform diverse functions, but pursue common business goals.
This large group (one billion) is made up of learners at schools, adults wanting to travel the world with ease and young people who may be seeking employment, either in an English speaking country or as tutors/ teachers in non-English speaking countries.
In South Africa, nowadays, many a young graduate is enrolling for an English language course. Some enrol for TEFL or TESOL courses, which would qualify them to teach English as a second or foreign language. Many young, and not so young, South Africans can be found teaching English overseas in countries like the UAE (think Dubai and Abu Dhabi), Vietnam, South Korea and China. The appetite for learning English, in countries like these, has grown exponentially over the recent times. This is also borne out by the fact that there are many South African individuals tutoring students, in Japan for example, in the basics of Business English.
This brings us to the concept ESOL.
It means ‘English for speakers of other languages’. This may include persons who speak a number of languages or those who previously have had English lessons in their home country.
It is quite a popular course taken by people, non-native speakers, who see learning English as a way to improve their circumstances. In essence, for our purposes, this would relate to the teaching of non-English speaking learners in a South African context.
This particular group would be made up of South African learners, who may never have been exposed to English. This would be a rarity, as all school-going children have to study a home language and then a second one, which is referred to as a First Additional Language. Their choice, at this point, may be Afrikaans, dependent on the dominant language in that neck of the woods. Alternately, the learner may be an adult from a remote village where English is not generally used. In terms of the former learners, a parent would generally, opt for English, which they recognise as a language very beneficial for a course of future study, career advancement and, to some degree, empowerment.
Numerous institutions offer English courses in South Africa. These range from private and public schools, language schools and learning centres, colleges and universities. Schoolchildren are introduced to a second language as from grade 2 and this they follow through to grade 12, matric. Way back, SA learners even studied a third language, namely Latin, but the curriculum has been amended over time as the needs of the country changed.
ESOL courses are designed to develop competence in learners. It will also be aimed at giving them confidence to use English in their field of employment as well as in their social interaction with others.
ESL refers to English Second Language, where the learner has chosen his mother tongue as his first language of study. He will pursue that language at a higher level, having identified it as his Home Language. The level of difficulty and the emphasis differs considerably between the two levels. The focus in ESL will be more centred on the use of the language and, so, the study of grammar will, specifically, look at its use or application and oral presentations will also carry greater weight.
There are a number of English courses in South Africa. One of them is ESL. ESL (English as a Second Language) is a course of study for individuals who may be learning English for first time. The classes these learners are enrolled for may include English vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar and spelling. Students may also learn some culture and history as a part of their studies. The ultimate aim of such a course is get a learner to the point where s/he can read, speak and write English. These courses can either be done online or by visiting a campus of a university, college, language school or tutoring service. Universities, across South Africa, including the University of Cape Town (UCT), Africa‘s premier university, offers short courses as well as degree courses in English.
And where you live outside of a large city or town, you can enjoy your studies from the comfort of your own home, provided you have reliable Internet access. This will afford you the luxury of selecting your service provider/tutor by applying several criteria to your search. The first criterion to consider would be how and when the tutors are available. Pricing would be your next consideration along with the duration of each lesson.
The advantages of selecting a tutor over the Internet are many. First, s/he must fit into your schedule! Second, you are given the flexibility to design your classes around your individual schedule. Some tutors, like those whom you connect with via Superprof, offer the first lesson at no charge. This may just be the clincher, because, in that first lesson, you may be able to assess whether you like the way the tutor works and whether you would like to continue with him or her.
Having completed a course in English can have a major impact on your professional life. It will enable you to interact with English-speaking customers, clients and business professionals. It may also open up many job prospects to you, which previously may have been beyond your reach. There is no doubt that it will also boost your self-confidence and your general idea of your own value or worth. Your commitment to this form of self-improvement may make you a very valuable member of your team and company. Looking beyond your current situation, it could also make you more marketable or attractive to competitors.
Another great benefit of completing an English course, is that certain institutions offer, for example, ESOL examinations, the results of which are recognised by colleges, universities and employers across the globe. Further, these results are valid for life.
Surely, these are enough reasons to get you enrolling for a class. Right?