5 Survival Tips for ESL Students Studying in the US

English as a Second Language programs are designed to help international students learn the language, communicate, and adjust to the US culture and society. They are very practical and based around everyday experiences in the beginning. But it doesn’t mean that these courses are easy.


Being an ESL student is challenging in many ways. Not only do they have to learn a new language in a short period, they also might struggle with isolation, confusion, and cultural stress. There is a lot to process. If it is the case for you, several tips can help you out with all aspects of this process. 

1.   Do Not Be Afraid to Ask for Help

It is especially valid for those who just came to the US and probably feel very stressed. It is completely okay not to know or understand something so remember to always ask for help. First of all, learn about campus adjustment programs for international students. They can help you with all the basics you need to know. There can also be some events for fellow students in ESL programs, where you can meet new friends.


Secondly, if you have any questions, ask the professor right away. Asking questions is a good thing; it shows your interest and dedication to learning. And the professor is the best source of advice on everything relating to the course.


Thirdly, make connections with classmates. It might be complicated if you don’t have a common language to communicate, but in such a way it will be a good English practice. And last, but not least, you can always ask a papers writing service for help with academic assignments. Use them whether you need proofreading or advice.

2.   Install a Dictionary on Your Devices

You’ll probably need to translate something all the time, not only in classes. That’s why it is a great idea to get a bilingual dictionary or translator tool just in case. Those who have a more advanced level of English can download the English thesaurus right away. For simple everyday tasks, you can always use Google Translate as it also has a pronunciation tool. It can help you in case you need to ask a question in the shop or at the bus stop. You can also download dictionary apps on your phone.

3.   Get a Local Cell Phone Plan

This is something to do in your first week arriving in the US. Using an international provider is going to be inconvenient and expensive. The best way to communicate and use the internet is to buy a local cell phone plan. Mainly, there are three options available:


      Buying a US SIM card for your old phone;

      Buying a new phone with a prepaid plan;

      Getting a new phone with a contract.


The first one is not for everyone as a lot of international smartphones are locked in the US. The second option is a bit more expensive than the third one. It requires paying a monthly fee. But you can get it without a social security number or credit check. So it is the most common choice for international students. The third one is for those who have the necessary documents. Contracts are cheaper and usually last for 2 years.

4.   Take Care of the Basics

Other basic needs include getting an American credit card and a bank account and taking care of your health insurance. These might be tricky steps, but they are quite necessary. With a local credit card, you’ll have the ability to drive a car, rent a flat, and get a good credit score. If you plan on staying in the US for a long time, it is essential to have a credit history to do anything.


Healthcare is also very important as insurance plans are very different. For this, counsel with the representative of the adjustment board for international students. Ask them to help you understand all the options and choose the optimal one.

5.   Learn in Your Free Time

The best way to adjust faster is to learn more. And it doesn’t have to be boring or dull. One of the best ways to get to know the culture and memorize new words with the correct pronunciation is to watch movies, TV shows, and listen to music. Pick a US TV show that you enjoy with subtitles in your native language and watch it in your free time. You can also listen to American artists and read their lyrics with translation. Reading a book is also a great idea, but it requires a decent level of English and it doesn’t help with phonetics.

In Summary

ESL students often have issues not only with the academic load, but also with social isolation, challenges of everyday tasks, and adjusting to a new environment. It is important to get help from professionals and consult with the campus officials. Another factor is getting basics such as cell-phone plans, insurance, and credit cards. They will make your life in the US much easier. And it is also vital to communicate, make new connections, and learn all the time.