5 reasons why you should study for an English language course

University of Sheffield students in Weston Park

With the start of the academic year in September, students around the world will have started preparing to study at English universities. In order to get the best start to their degree programme this year, many students are choosing to study English Language Preparation courses in the UK before their full academic programme.

It’s easy to take an optimistic view and assume that you’ll pick up the language skills you need as you study. However, it’s not always as easy as it seems, and the last thing any student on a competitive course wants to discover is that their language skills are letting them down.

English Language Preparation Courses are designed to help students achieve a level of English that will allow them to get the most out of their time in the UK and excel in their course of study

Here are five good reasons why you should be planning to enrol on one.

1. It’s often an entry requirement

If you’re considering an academic course of study in the UK and English isn’t your first language, you may find that your chosen course has a specified International English Language Testing System (IELTS) level as one of the entry requirements.  For example, students applying for courses at The University of Sheffield International College must have achieved IELTS 5.0 or equivalent before starting an International Foundation Year course and IELTS 5.5 before starting on a Pre-Masters programme. These are just guidelines – for some subjects, the requirements are higher. This means that by choosing to study an English Language Preparation course, you will still be able to study at a world top 100 university, rather than opting for an institution with lower entry requirements.

You can find out more the expanded list of English tests we are currently accepting for entry to the International College further down the page.

2. It can widen your scope

The better your level of English, the more courses you’ll be eligible for. While IELTS 5.0 is the standard for many foundation courses, those who achieve levels 5.5 or higher will find it opens the door into areas such as Journalism, Psychology and Biological Sciences. Postgraduate courses also require a higher level of language skills, so if you aspire to study an MA, investing in an English language programme will put you in a great position for your future.

3. It can be a great way to settle in

Studying for an English Language Preparation Course in the UK is a great way to get settled in before starting your more challenging academic programme. The courses last from one or two terms. They provide a great opportunity to become acclimatised, get used to the university and make friends. If it’s your first time away from home, this can be an important way to prepare yourself for student life.

4. It will improve your confidence

Starting a new course can be tough – and if your language skills aren’t up to scratch, you might feel isolated too. Taking an English Language Preparation Course in the UK for a term or two can really help to boost your confidence and reduce those negative feelings, making it easier for you to make new connections and get the full benefit of student life.

5. It can help improve your results

Studying abroad is a big commitment – and you want to do your best. An English language course will help you boost your abilities. Whether in terms of improving your understanding in class, increasing your ability to express your ideas fully in written assignments, or making you feel less self-conscious about participating in class, having great language skills will empower you to do your best.

My English language preparation course experience

We believe in the value of English language preparation programmes, so we spoke to Amber from China about her positive experience studying her preparation course.

“I have great memories of my English Language Preparation course. Before the beginning of my lessons, I worried that I would not adapt to the online class environment, but we were introduced to the online class software. My tutor was so patient and he reassured me.

Perhaps many new students think that language learning is boring, but English Language Preparation is very interesting. There is group discussion time and teamwork, where you can get familiar with your classmates and tutor, and the big lecture on Wednesdays can take you through Sheffield’s background. We also have a presentation to do on every Friday, which I think is the best approach to practice speaking skills as you tutor can give your feedback after it.

Sometimes when I feel confused, my tutor patiently helped me and encouraged me in the weekly tutorial – so I have little fear of speaking in online classes now.

English Language Preparation programmes are a very friendly and thoughtful place with patient tutors. New students may be afraid to speak in class, but I would like to tell you to believe in yourself and never be afraid to make mistakes – as only by making mistakes will you know how to improve your English."

Amber studied an English Language Preparation programme before progressing to study an International Foundation Year in Business, Social Sciences and Humanities. With the skills she’s learn at the International College, she hopes to progress to BSc (Hons) Psychology at the University.

Start your English language course journey

The International College is currently allowing students on English language courses to join their further studies without the need for IETLS testing. In the 2020/21 academic year, the International College will accept a wider range of English tests for entry. You will also have the opportunity to start your programme virtually from home or on-campus with a mixture of classroom interactions and virtual teacher-led learning. Alongside our intake dates in March and June, there are more opportunities now than ever to develop your English language skills.

Hopefully, taking an English language course in the UK is already on your to-do list. If it isn’t, and you’d like to know more, there is a wealth of information available about the types of courses available at The University of Sheffield International College. You can use these resources to pick the course – and the course length – that is right for you.