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Study English in Chicago

Chicago, though the third largest city in the United States, holds none of the overbearing arrogance of New York and Los Angeles.  It is instead a city that has developed on its own terms, holding true to its cultural heritage with traditions in literature, architecture, music, sports and cuisine.

Study English in Chicago

More peaceful than its frenetic sister cities, Chicago is located on the south-western tip of Lake Michigan, with the city itself built around the winding contours of the Chicago and Calumet rivers.  The central business district, the Chicago Loop, boasts striking architectural achievements to rival the likes of New York and Hong Kong. These include the neo-gothic Tribune Tower, the Willis Tower, which is the tallest building in the United States, the post-modern Marina Towers and the impressive art-deco Board of Trade building.  Chicago is also home to countless museums, theatres, world-famous restaurants and two Major League baseball clubs, the Cubs and the White Sox, as well as the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.

Chicago prides itself in being a city that is diverse and multicultural with the racial composition of the city taking in nationalities from across the globe, including large Polish, German, Asian and African communities.  This fusion of cultures forms the foundation of Chicago’s character, developing the city’s famous cuisine, music and even media.  As well as the world-renowned Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times the city also circulates a Polish Daily News publication and a daily Lithuanian newspaper.

Study English in Chicago

Chicago is a city passionate about nurturing creativity and ambition and this is demonstrated by its impressive alumni which include Nobel Prize winner Saul Bellow, the prominent architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the current President of the United States, Barack Obama.  It is this backdrop of achievement that makes Chicago an ideal city in which to study and also a perfect location to learn English.

Although it is the second most spoken language in the Western world, an accomplished comprehension of English is the key to any advancement, be it academic or vocational.  English courses in Chicago are optimised for exactly this - perfecting students’ understanding and implementation of the language in order for them to advance into higher education or onto the job market.

In addition to this basic goal of mastering English as a language, current English courses have developed further in recent years.  As well as offering students proficiency in reading, writing, listening, speaking and vocabulary and grammar, there is also a heightened awareness of the importance of other elements to the language such as rhetoric, note taking, presentational speaking and other more topic-specific courses.  These combine to develop a student’s language ‘portfolio’ which allows them to stand out in a hugely competitive job market.

There are a wide range of institutions throughout Chicago that offer English courses to international students, each with its own goals and methods.  Some courses offer intensive study of just the fundamentals of the language, while others branch out to include current affairs, exam preparation and even local culture.  Some are more targeted to deal with specific areas of the language, such as Business English, English for Executives and English for Academic Purposes.

What all the institutions share is the benefits of having Chicago at their disposal.  The city in itself acts as an extracurricular activity, constantly alive with events, concerts and exhibitions, all of which serve as opportunities for students to immerse themselves in the active use of English and to put into practise everything they have learnt in the classroom. 

Levels of English

Admission onto an English course varies with each institution.  Some will accept students with little experience of English, while others cater for students with undergraduate and postgraduate experience.  Proficiency examinations will need to be taken before any decision can be made.  These help to evaluate the student’s skills and needs, meaning that, once enrolled, the student will be studying at a level relevant to them and reflective of their needs.  The duration of English courses again varies with each institute.  Some follow the traditional Autumn, Spring and Summer semester style, readying the students for the structure of further academic study and allowing for a more in-depth consideration of various facets of the English language.  For those keen to enter onto the job market intensive courses are also available.  These can be as succinct as 2 weeks intensive study, though some last for 18 or 27 weeks.  These courses have the benefit of flexibility, with some tutorials taking place during evenings, or at weekends, allowing the students to continue to work or possibly enrol on extra, elective programmes.

International students hoping to study in Chicago will need to acquire an F-1 Student Visa in order to enter the country.  This is usually done after the application process has been completed and the student has been offered a provisional acceptance onto their chosen course.  The chosen institution will usually send the prospective student the necessary information needed to register for an F-1 Visa.  In addition to this certain immunisations will be necessary and the student will be required to obtain major medical insurance that is valid within the United States.  Student housing is often offered on-campus, but if this is not possible students will be offered help with finding off-campus accommodation.

Chicago welcomes international visitors with an enthusiasm not uncommon for a big city, but what sets the ‘Windy City’ aside from most others is what it can offer a visiting student.  In addition to furthering their English skills it also allows students the chance to develop socially and intellectually.  Students are encouraged to explore what the city has to offer and to maybe become a part of the long tradition of Chicago’s achievements.
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