Intensive English programs: do you really need one?
In this article, we’re going to learn more about what an Intensive English course is, who it’s for, and the different types available.
Table of Contents
What is an Intensive English Program?
Many students choose to take an Intensive English program (or IEP) to help them improve their English language skills on their path to fluency.
As the name suggests, Intensive English programs offer a way for ESL students to make the best possible progress in the shortest amount of time — usually involving daily lessons or learning. They attract a wide range of international students, who are learning English for a variety of reasons, including study, work and travel.
Intensive English courses can take many different forms, but focus on all aspects of the English language, and all four core skills — listening, speaking, reading and writing. They are generally full-time courses and are designed to help students achieve their desired level of English language proficiency as quickly as possible.
They are usually open to all students, whether beginner, intermediate or advanced level, and most providers require students to sit a placement test at the begin to establish their level of fluency.
The key focus within Intensive English programs is on general English skills, covering aspects such as:
- Conversational language skills
- Listening and accents
- Reading and interpretation
- Writing and presenting
- Building your vocabulary bank
- Fine tuning your pronunciation
- Interpretation of texts
- Grammar and syntax
- Note taking and revision
- Research skills
- Time management and planning
- Dictionary work
- Learner autonomy
Cultural and personal development
- Understanding cultural difference and similarity
- Team work and leadership
- Presenting an argument
- Discussion skills
Special Interest Groups
Whilst the primary area of focus within Intensive English programs is general English, they can sometimes be customised with elective components to allow for students’ specific needs. For example, Intensive English students at Kings supplement general English lessons with Special Interest Groups.
These are designed to develop specialist skills in English, or give experience of subjects which may have specific interest.
“I did Fluency and Discussion, English for Fashion, Art, and Design, and Business English. I prefer the SIG classes because they are about specific topics. For example, Business English is a great subject for me because I learn a lot of business-related vocabulary which is going to be very useful for my job at the oil company. " Abdullah studied the Diploma of Intensive English with Kings in New York.
"I’m doing the Intensive English course and am preparing for the FCE (Cambridge English: First) in the afternoons – I’m doing the speaking exam soon!I like the structure of this programme. It’s very useful if you want to do FCE." Sabrina studied the Intensive English course with Kings in Oxford.
Special interest groups offered may depend on location and proficiency level, but can include options such as:
Fluency and Experience
- Conversation Skills
- British Culture and History
- American Culture
- Drama, Cinema and Television
- Business English
- Marketing and Digital Media
- Legal English
- Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
- Masters Preparation
- IELTS Preparation
- TOEFL Preparation
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
- Cambridge English: First (FCE)
- Preparation for graduate programs
- Academic Reading and Writing
- Critical thinking
When should you take an Intensive English program?
Intensive English programs are generally open to students aged 16 and above. The majority of providers offer year-round enrolments, meaning students can generally begin their course whenever they wish.
Some intensive summer programs may be especially useful for those students who need to improve their English level in advance of high school or university study the following academic year, although the level of progress you need to make will inform how long a study period you require.
Different needs and goals
Intensive English programs attract students with a range of goals and needs. Some students choose to follow an Intensive course in preparation for study at an English-speaking university or school.
Other students enrol on an Intensive English language program as they require a higher level of proficiency for their current job, or in order to move into a new job or career — for example alongside native English speakers. There are also students who take Intensive programs because they are moving, or travelling to, an english-speaking country and need a way to improve their fluency before they go.
Types of Intensive English Courses
The majority of Intensive English programs involve daily language learning in some capacity. Whilst this has traditionally involved attendance at a class within a school or university, the Covid pandemic has meant increased online learning, with the majority of IEP providers having to adapt their course delivery to cater for remote students.
Intensive English courses are offered in accredited schools all over the English-speaking world, including in the United Kingdom and United States.
Type #1: Intensive English
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Every Monday between 6 January and 7 December 2020
- Every Monday between 4 January and 6 December 2021
Entry level: Beginner (Kings Level 1)*
Duration: 2 – 23 weeks
Class size: In the UK: Maximum 14 In the US: Maximum 15
Lessons per week: 28 lessons per week total (21 hours). 20 lessons (15 hours) General English + 8 lessons (6 hours) Special Interest Group
“Something that I liked a lot was that if they (my teachers) saw I was bad at something they left me more exercises on that — me specifically. They would see that I needed more work and they would tell me, 'I will give you more work and tomorrow I'll check it so that you get better.' I really liked that to be honest." Damaris studied the Intensive English course with Kings in Brighton
Type #2: Diploma of Intensive English
- Los Angeles
- New York
Every Monday between 6 January and 7 December 2020
Every Monday between 4 January and 6 December 2021
Level: Beginner (Kings Level 1)
Minimum age: 16
Duration: 24 –48 weeks
Class size In the UK: Maximum 14 In the US: Maximum 15
Lessons per week:
28 lessons per week total (21 hours). 20 lessons (15 hours) General English + 8 lessons (6 hours) Special Interest Groups
“I enjoy the conversation class the most. The teachers are very effective and they know how to teach, even grammar, without making it boring! Teachers give students incentives to talk, to talk, to talk." Alexandre studied the Diploma of Intensive English course with Kings in New York
Type #3: Intensive 25+
- Los Angeles
Los Angeles: Every Monday between 6 January and 7 December 2020, and 4 January and 6 December 2021
Oxford: Every Monday between 28 June and 26 July 2021 (end date 6 August 2021)
Level: Pre-intermediate (Kings Level 3)
Minimum age: 25
Duration: Minimum 2 weeks
Lessons per week: 28 lessons per week total (21 hours). 20 lessons (15 hours) General English and Professional Communication + 8 lessons (6 hours)
Class size In the UK: Maximum 14 In the US: Maximum 15
“I appreciate the highly skilled and competent teachers and the small classes. The average number of people in the classes is between 5-10, which makes learning very effective." Carolin studied the Intensive 25+ course with Kings in LA
Things to consider when choosing a program
With so many Intensive English programs available it can be hard to know which to choose. Taking into consideration the following factors will help you narrow down your search.
1) Location and accommodation
If you are hoping to travel abroad to complete an Intensive English program it’s worth researching the type of location that you think will be best suited to you before committing to a school. For example, would you like to study in a big, lively city with lots of options for free-time activities, or would a smaller place with fewer distractions be better if you have limited time and lots of study to do?
Equally, if you need accommodation provided along with your course, does your preferred school have the right type of housing for you? Are you looking for an immersive experience with a local host family to fully practise your language, or is residential accommodation with fellow students more what you need?
At Kings, we offer a range of city locations in the UK and USA, and across our schools a range of quality accommodation. No matter what your preference, there is something to suit your requirements.
2) Class sizes
When considering which Intensive English program to choose, class size is definitely an important factor to research. Making sure you opt for a school with small class sizes will mean you get optimum support and, in turn, make optimum progress.
3) Teaching experience and expertise
It’s important to make sure that any IEP provider has experienced staff who are expert in their field. At Kings, for example, all teachers have a recognised English teaching qualification. Equally, the fact that our schools have external accreditation means that the quality of our teaching is subject to independent checks, and is therefore the best that it can be.
4) Specialist input
Whilst all Intensive English programs offer english language instruction in general skills, if you are learning with a particular goal in mind, it’s worth checking before you sign up as to whether specialist input in your area of expertise or interest can be provided — either as a Special Interest Group such as those offered at Kings, or as an additional component.
5) Progress guarantee
If you have a specific time-frame or budget for your intensive English program, it can be particularly reassuring to choose a provider that offers some sort of progress guarantee, like Kings. Here. we guarantee that you will reach the level of English proficiency we have agreed with you. If you don’t, provided you have attended all classes and completed all assignments, you can study for free until you do!
Ready to take an Intensive English course?
At Kings, it is possible to enrol in an Intensive English course all year round, whether you want to study with us in the UK (Brighton, Bournemouth, London or Oxford) or the USA (Boston, New York or Los Angeles).
We hope that this article has helped you understand more about the different types of Intensive English courses available, who they are suitable for, and the things to consider before choosing a provider.
If you’re ready to book, you can do so via the Kings Booking portal.
If you would like receive more detailed information about the Kings Intensive English courses, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.