For international students, a high school exchange program in the U.S. can be an extremely rewarding and exciting experience. For most students, studying abroad is their first experience of visiting a foreign country and living away from home. An exchange program offers a great opportunity for international students to experience the American way of life. As an exchange student, it is interesting to go and live with a new family in another country and get exposed to the American language and culture. A great plus with a U.S. high school exchange program is that international students can greatly improve their English language skills as they are always immersed in an English speaking environment.
High school exchange student programs in the U.S.For exchange students, starting to study at any school in the U.S. is a major step in life, more so for students who speak English as a second language. Whether it is choosing their subjects in school, interacting with their teachers or making friends, these are challenges that many international students face.
For this reason, high schools in the U.S. are putting greater emphasis on English communication. Many exchange programs are designed so that international students can improve their English proficiency for academic and professional purposes. Through such programs, students develop their English skills while experiencing life in the U.S. It gives them a great opportunity to learn firsthand about the culture of the country and to improve their communication skills. The English skills of students may vary and may depend upon a number of factors such as the length of time the language has been studied, the student’s native language and so on. In the U.S., there are many academic programs whose objective is to enable foreign students to attain a level of English fluency that allows them to function in an American high school soon after arrival. It is often observed that a student may have poor English skills on arrival; learning a second language takes time but a semester or a year exchange program gives students enough time to refine their English skills; in fact, there is a noted improvement in the language skills of students just after a few days of adapting to their new environment.
How host families can help exchange students with their English skills
As a part of their exchange program, international students are required to live with a host family for the period of their stay in the U.S. Host families have a major role to play in helping the exchange students improve their English that will help them throughout their lives. The main goal of visiting exchange students is to practice and improve their English skills. This happens naturally by living with their host families. Since foreign students are encouraged to express themselves in English as much as possible, they pick up the language faster in a very practical way. During their months together, the student’s English proficiency will improve remarkably, something that the host family will find extremely gratifying.
How students can improve their language skills
It is often seen that though most international students are quite comfortable reading and writing in English, they are not as comfortable speaking in the language. Once students arrive in the U.S., they realize that their level of English is not enough to get by in a U.S. school environment.
On their part, international students need to realize that the fundamental purpose of an exchange is to learn a new language and experience a different culture. This will pretty much decide how well they will succeed as exchange students. The big fundamental is that students should prioritize learning English. It is good to make English speaking friends, as there is no substitute for talking with a native speaker; it also helps one pick up cultural and social cues. It is a good idea to read books and listen to CD’s to improve one’s language skills. Watching TV shows and movies is also a good way to get familiar with the language. Reading news and entertainment in English can help with some common conversational topics; there is a better chance of understanding and expressing oneself thereby overcoming both language and cultural barriers. As English language has a huge vocabulary, it helps to note new words and look up their definitions and meanings before using them in a conversation. As always, practice makes perfect; students can start practising their English skills even before they arrive on campus.
All in all, high school exchange programs give international students a wonderful opportunity to go to another country, learn a new language, improve their communication skills and come back home with a better perspective of the world.