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How to learn English as a second language

Mohamed Hesham

Undoubtedly, learning foreign languages is very important. When you learn a new language, you widen your circle around the world, as you will be able to communicate and deal with all people speaking this language. But imagine you learn English – the most common foreign language, hence, you will be able to communicate with 1,500,000,000 person around the world, according to the statistics. English, now, is considered the first or at least the second official language in many countries, such as United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Nigeria, India, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and so many others.

English speakers per country
The percentage of English speaking people in different countries

Also, English is the language of international banking, and business. So, people who learn English have an asset when searching for job opportunities inside or outside their countries. Moreover, people looking forward to continuing their education will find it easier, as a massive number of educational institutions around the world use English as the language of instruction. When applying for a job or for an educational institution speaking in English, they request an English language proficiency test score. There are many examinations that can be taken for assessing English language abilities such as IELTS, TOEFL, CAEL, MELAB, and many others. In this post we will discuss how to learn English as a second language; the different English language proficiency examinations, and how to prepare for them.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

The international English language testing system (IELTS) is one of the most popular English language proficiency tests around the world. It can be used for immigration, employment, higher education, and many other purposes. More than three million candidates have taken the test last year.


IELTS assesses all the conversational English language abilities (reading, writing, listening and speaking), and is designed to measure how the candidate will use English at his different life tasks such as, studying, working, or dealing with people when immigration to a new English-speaking country.

The IELTS test is developed by some of the most professional experts in English language assessment. It is recognized and accepted mostly everywhere around the world, by more than 10,000 organizations which include universities, schools, immigration authorities, employers…etc.

There are many educational programs to prepare for IELTS exam, even if the student has minor or beginner information about the language. Each student should start from the level corresponding to his skills before joining the program, until he reaches the level in which he can participate in the exam and get the required score for his needed purpose.

Test of English as a Foriegn Language (TOEFL)

TOEFL is also a test to measure the conversational English language abilities (reading, writing, listening and speaking) of non-native speakers. Like IELTS, TOEFL is used for immigration, employment, or educational purposes. TOEFL is mostly recognized all over the world, with more than 10,000 organizations accepting it. TOEFL and IELTS are considered the two major English languages proficiency tests.

The same like IELTS, TOEFL consists of 4 main exam parts: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Reading and writing have nearly the same difficulty as the corresponding parts of the IELTS exam for academic purposes, while listening and speaking are harder in TOEFL, from my point of view, as all the TOEFL exam is designed for academic purposes, unlike the listening and speaking parts in the IELTS, which are designed to fit both: general and academic purposes.

The Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB)

The Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) is also an examination designed to measure the English language abilities of nonnative speakers of English. The MELAB is accepted by numerous organizations in the field of education, and other professional organizations as an evidence of English language proficiency, for academic and professional purposes.

The MELAB exam style is a bit different from IELTS and TOEFL. Writing and listening sections are available in the thrice, while the third section in MELAB is called GCVR (grammar, cloze, vocabulary, and reading). Cloze questions are passages with deletions, then there are multiple choices to fill the blanks, and the examiner has to choose the one the best fits the grammar and the meaning. The speaking section is optional in the MELAB exam.

There are many educational programs to prepare for the MELAB exam, starting from the beginner level and reaching more advanced levels.

Pearson test (PTE Academic)

PTE is also another form of test that measure English language proficiency. It is also recognized by many organizations around the world. The PTE is divided into three parts: speaking and writing; reading; and listening. There are some advantages of the PTE test that are not available in other exams. The first one is the flexibility: as the test dates are flexible and available in 360 days of the year in many test centers around the world; another one is that the test taker can send the results to an unlimited number of institutions without paying additional fees; finally, the results are issued for students in just five days.

So, what can we conclude

Now, we can definitely say that it is very important to learn foreign languages, especially English, as this will help anybody to advance his career, or seek education or jobs overseas. There are many examinations for English language proficiency, the most popular are IELTS and TOEFL. When anybody decides to take a language proficiency test, it is very important to check first if his target organizations accept this test or not, and the minimum accepted scores.

If anybody has feedback about the post, or something to add, I will be very happy if he leaves a comment here. As I say every post, we all have the same goal: to help each other to become better.


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  3. Jia Jia

    Wow. Thanks for sharing your helpful information with us. I really like it very much. Actually my English is also not that much strong that I can prepare for IELTS. But your tips helping me a lot. Thanks for sharing.

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