What’s your dream college?
No, Hogwarts isn’t a valid answer.
I mean a real college.
Many people dream of receiving a letter of acceptance to the college of their choice, even if isn’t delivered by an owl.
But what if your dream college is in an English-speaking country?
If you’re an English learner, you’ll need to demonstrate your level of English for Academic Purposes (EAP). This means you might need to take a test designed for assessing university-level English.
Why is this necessary? It’s necessary because academic English is different from the conversational English that people speak every day.
Luckily, learning English for academic purposes is easier than learning magic. This article will give you an introduction to EAP and five free EAP courses that you can take to get yourself ready for the college of your dreams.
Hang on to your broomsticks, and let’s learn some academic English!
What Are EAP Courses?
EAP is short for English for Academic Purposes, the language used in a higher education setting.
Learning EAP is different from learning English as a Second Language (ESL). To learn EAP, students need to acquire a set of specific linguistic skills for communicating effectively in academic contexts.
In addition to the focus on academic vocabulary, you’ll need to develop study skills like listening and reading for note taking, writing summaries and composing critical essays, presenting ideas, participating in debates and many other crucial abilities for university study.
Who should take an EAP course?
If you want to pursue higher education in a college or a university where programs are taught in English, you’ll need to demonstrate a certain level of EAP. One way to do this is to take an EAP course and complete an exam to receive a certificate indicating your language skills.
TOEFL and IELTS are the two most common certificates used to assess a learner’s EAP.
What will you learn in an EAP course?
There are many EAP courses offered by universities and English teaching centers. Though they all aim to improve international students’ language skills for studying at colleges and universities, the content and specific subjects vary. Most EAP courses include the following components:
- Academic English vocabulary
- Essay writing
- Reading for academic purposes
- Academic listening and speaking skills
For more specific instruction, you can take a preparation English language course for one of the standardized tests for English for Academic Purposes:
- TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language): An English-language test recognized by many educational institutes in countries like Australia, Canada, the U.K. and the United States.
- IELTS (International English Language Testing System): An English-language test for non-native speakers required for study, migration and work. It’s recognized in many countries as well, including Australia, Canada and the U.K.
- Cambridge English Tests: A series of exams for different levels of English. Unlike the other tests, which give you a graded score, the Cambridge English tests are pass/fail, which means you should make sure you’re taking the correct test for your English language level.
Different Options for Taking EAP Courses
Language learners have many options for EAP courses, depending on their English level, their higher education plan and their circumstances:
- Summer EAP courses: If you’ve already been accepted, you can take a summer course provided by the university you plan to attend. Many universities in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. offer their pre-admitted students an English for Academic Purposes course (and/or a general English course) just before starting their academic year. Here’s just one such example from the University of Delaware.
- Exam preparation courses: You can also take a preparation course for TOEFL or IELTS at one of the authorized and qualified education agencies in your home country.
- Online EAP courses: Many universities and educational institutes offer courses that learners can take from anywhere with an internet connection. Like all other online English language courses, you need dedication and self-motivation to succeed.
Before you begin an online EAP course, you can increase your chance of success by making use of some extra resources:
- Oxford Academic Vocabulary Practice: This website offers vocabulary exercises so you can practice words and phrases often used in academic contexts.
- EAP vocabulary: These exercises are designed for the practice of academic words in various topics.
- FluentU: FluentU videos immerse learners in real-life situations and make the process of learning English easier and more enjoyable.
Unlike traditional language learning sites, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you'll see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It even reminds you when it’s time to review! Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.
You can start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, by downloading the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
5 (Free!) EAP Courses for A+ Academic English Skills
1. TOEFL Test Preparation: The Insider’s Guide
This free online English language course is taught on Edx, a website which allows visitors to take thousands of online courses from well-known institutes for free or a small fee. Learners can study with other students and enjoy the benefit of discussing the topics and completing assignments, or they can read through the entire course at their own pace after it’s complete. EdX is one of the biggest MOOC websites out there, so it’s a great place to find EAP courses and any other type of course you might be interested in.
This particular course is taught by Educational Testing Service (ETS)—the institution that created the TOEFL exam.
In addition to language skills, the course offers practical tips for TOEFL registering, preparing for the test day and finding additional resources.
In this course:
- You’ll get to know the four sections of the TOEFL test (reading, listening, speaking and writing) and learn the skills and tips needed to achieve the best score for each section.
- You’ll improve your language skills using interactive videos, short quizzes and collaborative discussions boards.
- You’ll practice with questions from actual past tests.
2. IELTS Academic Test Preparation
This is another online course on EdX, offered by The University of Queensland. This Australian university is also an IELTS testing center and one of the world’s leading institutes of learning.
The EAP course includes multimedia presentations about key test-taking skills, strategies and techniques. It also utilizes IELTS-style exercises and interactive practice activities for learners to put their newly-acquired knowledge into action.
In this English language course:
- You’ll develop your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, which correspond to the four sections of the IELTS test.
- You’ll learn useful strategies for taking the test by gaining a thorough understanding of the IELT procedure and format.
3. Understanding IELTS: Techniques for English Language Tests
Available for free on Future Learn, this course from the British Council focuses on the IELTS test. The British Council is an established English language learning and assessment center, which administers the IELTS test in more than 100 countries.
The course includes tutorial videos with instructions provided by experienced IELTS educators. It teaches useful tips and strategies to achieve any IELTS goals as well as the language skills necessary to do well on the test.
In this course:
- You’ll be led through the four parts of the test: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
- You’ll find practice materials to best prepare for the real test.
- You’ll receive feedback from other learners as a way to improve your speaking and writing skills.
4. English Composition
Available on EdX, this writing course is provided by the Arizona State University. It aims to help learners communicate their ideas clearly in the English language.
In this course, learners are introduced to different technologies and various habits that will help them write more effectively and efficiently. In addition to learning a variety of techniques and skills from tutorial videos, this course allows learners to improve their skills through several writing projects.
In this course:
- You’ll learn how to craft your writing for a specific audience and a particular purpose.
- You’ll learn the academic writing process and receive instruction in how to do research, write a draft as well as revise and edit your own writing.
5. Listening and Presenting: Learning English for Academic Purposes
The Open University offers this course for all language learners on the FutureLearn platform.
It focuses on two aspects of EAP: listening and speaking. The ability to listen to the ideas of other people critically and present your own ideas effectively are two essential skills for success in college, and this course will help you develop those skills. As a part of the course, learners are also provided with learning strategies to expand their vocabulary.
You can access FutureLearn courses for free for 14 days. Or, you can upgrade for unlimited access and to receive a certificate after finishing the course. With full access, this course costs $114.
In this course:
- You’ll get access to strategies for listening and note-taking.
- You’ll learn how to identify the key points in lectures and presentations and record them in an organized system.
- You’ll learn how to make an engaging presentation yourself, gain the confidence to present it in public and connect with your audience.
- You’ll have the chance to receive feedback from the educator for a presentation you create.
EAP is an incredibly useful type of English to know if you plan to attend an English-speaking college or university.
Make use of the five free online EAP courses and the additional resources in this article and your knowledge of English for Academic Purposes will expand… like magic! You’ll be prepared for any school, be it Yale, Harvard, Duke or Hogwarts.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.