For many potential English language learners, the prospect of carving out time from an already busy schedule to take an English course is a major deterrent. However, more and more English programs are offering correspondence courses so that students can learn English on their own time and from their own computer. This program is also called distance learning, and it's a very popular choice for professionals wanting to better their written or spoken English for professional or personal development.
More About Correspondence Courses
Many correspondence courses, or distance learning courses, are offered through university English programs. In a correspondence course, you enroll in the class and "meet" your colleagues and instructor through the web. To make up for the fact that you do not have to be present in a physical classroom for these courses, you are expected to log a certain amount of time on the classroom web portal or website. Assignments are submitted electronically, graded by an instructor and returned to you via email or online.
Finding a Correspondence Course
You can find quality correspondence courses through a university's or college's website. Making sure that your program is accredited through an organization such as the Commission for English Language Program Accreditation is a good way to guarantee that you receive quality instruction. If the program you enroll in is not accredited by a third party such as CEA, you run the risk of not receiving the quality of instruction you thought you paid for. Most universities in the United States offer CEA-accredited English programs to support the international student population, and in turn, many of these English programs offer distance learning options for students unable to physically leave their home country or job to enroll in a traditional classroom-based course. Enrolling in an accredited correspondence course through a major university or college is a good way to make sure the instructor and course content will be of a certain quality.
Learning Spoken English in a Correspondence Course
Even though you may never meet your instructor face-to-face, you can still gain valuable spoken-language experience through an online course. Many courses require you to have a microphone and headset to enroll in them. Some assignments require you to have conversations with other students in a chat room that was especially created for the particular course, and some assignments require you to speak responses into a microphone. Your responses are recorded and sent to the instructor for review.
Learning Written English in a Correspondence Course
Correspondence courses are especially well-suited for practicing written English. A wide variety of courses are available in science-related fields, such as Writing Lab Reports, and in business-related fields, including Writing Professional Memos and Emails. In such courses, you complete a variety of assignments and submit them to the instructor for grading. In addition, the instructor will give lessons via PDF documents or PowerPoint to enrich the learning experience.
Megan Ritchie has been a writer for more than 10 years, and has been published in a number of journals and newspapers, including "The Daily Targum" (Rutgers University's daily newspaper) and "The Philadelphia Inquirer." She has a Master's degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.