Choosing to study English in Washington DC will be a life-changing experience. You will be immersed in the language and given every opportunity to learn how to communicate in English in real-world settings. Not only is attending a Washington language school a wise decision for your English education, but you will discover it is also a wise decision personally. We’ve put together a list of 12 tips to ensure you make the most out of your language learning experience and enjoy your time in DC.
Set Clear Goals
While being spontaneous can be good, it is better to have some clear goals as you head to DC. Just as you wouldn’t book a plane ticket or enroll in an English class in DC on the whim, you should take time to think about what you want to get from your language learning experience. For example, set clear goals like passing your TOEFL or learning to communicate in English well enough to work in an English-speaking country.
Learn the History
Since Washington DC is the capital of the United States, it is the perfect place to learn American history. You will be leaving where history was made and is still being made. Therefore, you should take advantage of the location. Visit the historical monuments, go on walking tours, and explore the museums. These all provide opportunities for you to see part of American history and to practice reading and listening in English.
Embrace the Culture
You are studying abroad in a different country, so you should not expect things to be the same as back home. Instead, expect to do things differently. Embrace the American culture! Celebrate the American holidays that occur while you are in DC. Enjoy American television and music. Learn to appreciate the things that make American culture different from your own and unique.
Eat the Food
Before you arrive or soon after, make a list of what you think are the must-have American meals you must have, such as cheeseburgers, apple pie, or barbecue. Then, make an effort to find it nearby! Don’t worry – DC is a foodie town, so you won’t have to look far to find some delicious food to try. At the same time, DC is a cultural melting pot, so it is also a wonderful place for you to try other ethnic dishes.
Befriend the Locals
One of the best ways to improve your English is to befriend the locals. Native English speakers will be helpful when it comes to learning how to speak English naturally and conversationally. They can help you pick up slang terms and hear how words are pronounced or phrases are worded. Plus, friends from the area will be able to provide a more authentic American experience when you hang out since they will go to the real places that locals go rather than just tourist spots.
Be a Tourist
At the same time, it is important to remember you are a tourist. So, act like one! Go to all the tourist spots you have heard about or seen on tv. Visit the White House and the Washington Monument and eat at Hard Rock Café. There is something really special about everyone’s first trip to DC, so make sure you tour all the places that make DC so popular with tourists.
Take a Trip
While you will never run out of things to do while attending one of the language schools in DC, you should schedule some time to take a trip to visit other popular American destinations. For example, you can take a bus or a train to New York City. You can hop on a plane and visit Disney World. Some visitors make a special point to visit the mountains and the beach. You can do both easily from the DC area!
Capture Your Memories
Document your time while you take English courses in Washington DC. Take photos of all the places you visit, the different foods you try, and the people you meet. You will look back on these photos with fond memories. But, taking photos is also helpful as you are learning English because they work as visual study notes.
While studying abroad in DC, you should prepare for homesickness. It happens, and that is okay. By knowing you will likely feel homesick at some point in your studies, it helps you prepare mentally. You should also already have a plan in place for how you are going to stay in touch with your loved ones back home while you are studying English in DC.
Create a Budget
Resist the urge to buy, buy, buy while in DC. You may be surprised at just how quickly you can run through all your money. Instead, create a budget. Identify how much money you have and how much money is necessary to meet your basic needs while in DC (food, housing, school). Then, determine how much extra you will have and what you want to spend it on. We recommend spending your extra money on experiences (such as tickets to a sports game) rather than a bunch of cheap souvenirs.
Make Healthy Choices
Just because you are in a new place does not mean you should fall into bad habits. For example, just because they offer giant glasses of soda in America doesn’t mean you have to drink it. You don’t want to risk getting sick or feeling unwell while you are far from home. Instead, eat healthy, exercise, rest well, and drink plenty of water.
Don’t Forget What You Came For
Finally, don’t forget why you came to DC. You came because you want to learn how to communicate in English fluently! So, make sure you are including studying and practicing English into your daily life. Fortunately, it’s easy to do – especially if you attend the Washington language institute, inlingua. Inlingua students are taught how to speak English fluently in less time, and they have a lot of fun while doing it!