Even though you will have a lot of work to do in your ESL classes, which will give you the foundation you need to improve your English, your language competency develops constantly, both inside and outside the classroom. In other words, you need to "take the bull by the horns" and realize that you are in charge of your own success! Here are some recommendations that will make your "ESL journey" an enjoyable and valuable experience:
Engage your mind and your spirit!
Since the ESL program is a content-based, academic program, you must engage in the topics presented with each unit. You are not just learning language skills. You are learning how to become part of an academic community.
Develop your social skills!
To contribute in a meaningful way to this academic community, you must show interest in other students´ opinions and contributions. You must also demonstrate a willingness to cooperate in team work. Remember this: Neil Armstrong didn´t fly to the moon all by himself!
Seek more and more knowledge in order to develop your own point of view!
Being academic means searching for knowledge and critically examining new information and ideas in order to form your own opinion. You therefore need to learn how to observe, compare, and analyze different information from different sources.
Let "I want to know more" be your mantra!
In a college class, you will constantly come across information that you have never heard or thought about before. Never be happy about knowing a little. To leave a class thinking "I want to know more!" is the best, first step towards being a successful student. Go to the library or surf the Internet to explore a new topic or subject. Remember this: What you study must mean something to you!
Become your own best language teacher!
Everybody wishes for the "magic ESL pill." Here´s a surprise for you: It doesn´t exist! Instead, YOU are in charge of the magic. And two words will "open sesame" for you: good habits. Your daily routines should include habits that support curiosity, awareness and accuracy, and consistency.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it won´t kill you!
Never stop being curious about improving your English. Explore the language as much as you can outside the classroom. Develop your own private dictionary in which you write down all new words. Organize the words in a way that will permit you to locate them again. Because a word in itself needs "friends" to make sense or take on different meanings, write down phrases alongside the words so that you will learn to use them properly. Read the newspaper, magazines, and books. Watch TV and listen to the radio. Go to the movies. Let all the different stimuli of the language enter your system!
Don´t let grammar remain a "dirty word!" Be aware and accurate!
To become your own "master teacher," learn to pay attention and be precise! Examine all phrases, clauses, and sentences in detail in order to understand how "the language works" and "it all comes together." See how "every word" contributes to the meaning of your sentences. Once you understand this, you will be able to model your writing and speaking on what you read and hear. As a result, you will edit your work better, and your English will have a "natural flow" to it.
Don´t let your schedule be affected by outside distractions!
Consistency, focus, and repetition need to become "magic potions" in your college life. You must find time to study undisturbed. If there is no place for you to work without interruptions at home, go to the school library or a library in your community to get your work done. Practice how to focus without distractions. While you are studying, turn off your cell phone and do not answer emails! By repeating these actions day in and day out, consistency will enter your life, and you will become the master of your own destiny.