California Dreaming

Kristal Bivona swoons over San Diego as a study abroad destination

San Diego is the ideal destination for students who want the iconic California experience, complete with fiery sunsets, serene and clean beaches, and a mild climate. Studying in San Diego presents the opportunity to visit tourist attractions in the Los Angeles area without having to confront the quotidian challenges of big-city living, such as hours wasted in gridlock and visible smog. The city of San Diego is split by rolling hills, valleys, coastal cliffs and Mission Bay into spunky neighborhoods, each with its own character. With three large universities, some neighborhoods, like Pacific Beach, have a college-town feel with dozens of bars and thousands of young people.

For students who love to spend time outdoors, San Diego offers the opportunity to be outside almost every day of the year. In the winter, San Diegans go surfing one day, and go snowboarding at a local mountain the next. Walking around San Diego, you will notice that the pace is slower than other parts of Southern California. San Diegans look relaxed and happy, and local businesses provide every chance for their customers to be in the sun. Shopping malls are all outdoors, and many restaurants and bars offer patio seating so patrons can bask in the sunshine.

As the southwest corner of the U.S., San Diego is where cultures, languages and history intersect. Its proximity to the border gives students an opportunity to experience Mexican culture as well, whether it’s learning about Mexican cuisine, embarking on a day trip to Tijuana, or just taking the San Diego Trolley to Historic Old Town San Diego, which was founded when California was Mexican territory. Students who yearn for more can study Spanish, work with organizations that deal with issues surrounding the complicated border, or pursue advanced studies in Chicano Studies or Homeland Security.

San Diego boasts a strong art scene and there are poetry slams, art exhibitions, and theater shows every day. Balboa Park, a beautiful, green downtown park, houses museums and cultural centers as well as the San Diego Zoo. Lovers of marine life can visit the Birch Aquarium and Sea World, or marvel at seals in their natural habitat at La Jolla cove.
The only danger presented by San Diego, with its warm climate, natural beauty, countless outdoor activities, cultural wealth, and host of top-tier universities and language schools is that students may never want to leave.
English Schools in San Diego

University of California, San Diego
UC San Diego is ranked 14th internationally in the 2011 academic rankings of world universities conducted by Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China and 8th overall in the U.S. With a faculty of seven Nobel Prize recipients, it is recognized throughout the world for its great beach-front location, research, faculty members, and for its top-notch graduate and undergraduate programs.
UC San Diego’s Extension International Programs is a department of UC San Diego, which provides international students and professionals an opportunity to advance career and academic objectives. It offers short-term and intensive English language programs for professional and academic development, university credit programs (short-term study abroad), customized programs, and professional certificates to help the student or professional achieve career goals. Extension International Programs presents a great environment to learn, network, and have access to UC San Diegoís many world-renown resources.

Connect English Language Institute
Connect English Language Institute, one of San Diego’s most affordable and dynamic schools, offers all levels of English and two programs, English Max (22 hours per week) and English Focus (16 hours per week). Students can choose the schedule that enables them to best meet their goals. More advanced students in level six and up can choose to take one-on-one classes through College Connect to prepare them for the academic rigor of U.S. universities. Or they may enroll in TOEFL Max, which provides 22 hours of TOEFL preparation a week.

Connect offers an educational experience that focuses on true progress inside the classroom, and excellent opportunities outside of the classroom as well. Students can choose to live in a homestay or in an apartment.
The campus is located next to a San Diego Trolley station, making it convenient for public transportation. The cultural activities and field trips show students different sides of San Diego and U.S. culture. Students jump at the chance to try surfing, play American Football, participate in Halloween, and have BBQs and bonfires on the beach.

Converse International School of Languages (CISL) has been delivering quality English courses in San Diego since 1972, and is one of the only language schools in North America to guarantee a maximum of eight students per class (average seven). This commitment to quality standards accelerates the learning process by allowing for more personal attention and classroom participation for each student. CISL’s small classes also attract more serious and motivated students, which further accelerates the learning experience.
ESL course offerings include standard and intensive ESL classes, TOEFL and Cambridge Exam preparation, Academic Year Abroad, and private lessons.

CISL San Diego is centrally located, downtown in the trendy Gaslamp District, just steps away from shopping, art galleries, cafes, and exciting nightlife.

Intrax San Diego
Opened downtown in 1999, students describe the Intrax San Diego Center as a big family, making it a wonderful environment in which to learn English, develop professional skills, and learn about American culture. The school has been newly renovated to offer classrooms with flat screen TVs and computers, a great student lounge and kitchen, free wireless internet, two new computer labs, as well as career counseling and university advising centers.

Intrax offers Business English, General English, Professional Certificates, TOEFL and Cambridge Test Preparation programs on either a standard, intensive or super schedule. It offers two types of housing options — the homestay option is a good way to experience American traditions and cultures by living with a carefully screened and interviewed family ready to welcome international students to San Diego. The residence club option offers an independent living situation with a fun, international atmosphere that includes dormitory-style housing and meal options or shared kitchens.

Intrax guarantees that students will spend 75 percent of class time focused on developing speaking skills; that they will meet Americans and can practice English with a visiting American in class every week; and that they can get professional experience at an American company by participating in the career preparation option, which offers guest speakers and company tours.

EC English San Diego
Established in 1991, EC now consists of 15 schools in five countries, spread over three continents. Every year EC helps over 25,000 students, from over 140 countries, to improve their English language skills.
There are three schools on the West Coast: San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles (opens this month). The San Diego school is located in the beautiful area of La Jolla, which is well-known for its up-market shopping and incredible beaches with seals spotted next to surfers and sunbathers. The school’s 20 bright classrooms, big student lounge, free internet and outdoor terraces with ocean views all help to create the relaxed Californian atmosphere.
EC courses are accredited by ACCET and include General English, One-to-One, Cambridge Exam Preparation, TOEFL Exam Preparation, Academic Year, Business Year, and University Foundation Programs. All English courses have a maximum of 12 students per class and are taught by friendly and experienced teachers.

Alliant International University
Alliant International University’s International Language Education Center (ILEC) offers a variety of English programs that prepare non-native English speakers for success in academic and professional settings: Academic English, English for Specific Purposes, and TESOL Certificate.

The Academic English curriculum is designed for international students who seek to improve their English skills to study in English-speaking institutions of higher learning. The program incorporates instruction in English writing and grammar, listening and speaking, and reading. Attention is given to academic study skills, with an emphasis on cross-cultural differences in educational practices.

The English for Specific Purposes Program provides instruction within the context of specific academic and professional content areas. Custom programs of instruction can be created in subjects like Business English, English for Psychology, or English for Nursing. In these courses, students develop practical English skills with a focus on professional success in the global environment.
The TESOL Certificate program is designed for non-native speaking teachers of English. It provides an understanding of the theories and methods that underlie successful language acquisition. The program also prepares teachers to implement effective classroom techniques and strategies in the English skill areas (listening, speaking, reading, and writing).

ELS/San Diego
ELS/San Diego specializes in bringing students to the U.S. to study English and then attend university. It is part of ELS Language Centers, which is the largest network of campus-based English language instruction centers in the world. There are more than 60 study locations in the U.S., Canada and Australia, with the majority (50) on university campuses.
Over the past 50 years, ELS has helped over a million international students from more than 140 countries learn English quickly and effectively.

Students attend language classes for 30 hours per week, and also go on numerous outings to local educational and recreational destinations. Being immersed in an English-speaking environment enables students to learn English and its many nuances much more quickly.

Many move on to attend a local university. ELS’s holistic approach reflects academic learning over the course of time, rather than the result of the student’s performance as measured by a one-time test. This results in higher university performance.
More than 650 institutions accept ELS completion as proof of English proficiency for admission purposes.
ELS/San Diego offers English for Academic Purposes, General English, Semi-Intensive English, Executive English and the Complete Prep Program for the TOEFL iBT. Both homestay and off-campus apartment housing options are available.

Kaplan International Center is a five-minute walk from the beaches of La Jolla. Here students can study English in a relaxed, international atmosphere at an ACCET accredited school that offers both general English classes and Test Preparation Courses (TOEFL & TOEIC), as well as special skills classes in Business English and conversation. The school offers university placement services with partnership colleges and universities. Students can pursue unpaid internships with local businesses as part of the Practical Business English Program.
This school has a great social program with weekly events and activities that ensure lifelong friends. Activities include volleyball games, salsa dancing, sushi at Pacific Beach, and surfing. All homestays in San Diego are carefully selected by school staff to provide a safe and welcoming home environment. Alternatively, they offer apartment accommodations in a complex with a fitness center and swimming pool. Apartments are ideal for students who wish to have more independence during their stay.

San Diego State University
San Diego State University’s American Language Institute offers the opportunity to study English in first-rate facilities at a highly-regarded campus in a beautiful city. The institute offers a variety of programs to meet the specific needs and goals of students. Advanced students also have the opportunity to take classes for university credit with American students.
San Diego State University (SDSU) is the largest university in San Diego, so the campus offers everything a student needs — from numerous restaurants to quiet places to sit and read in the sun. The 300-acre campus provides students a safe, clean and state-of-the-art place to study. In addition, SDSU has classrooms, dormitories, administration buildings, dining halls, concert venues, green areas, ponds, bike and skateboarding lanes. Our students also have access to a recreation center, exercise classes, pools, and team sports. SDSU also has its own trolley station, affording easy access to all parts of the city.

Kristal Bivona is assistant editor of Language Magazine.