How to study English while visiting the USA
When you’re traveling abroad, visa regulations can be quite strict. You’re often given a very specific list of things you can and can’t do on your visa. But did you know that if you are visiting the USA on a tourist visa (also known as a “visitor visa” by the State Department) or through the Visa Waiver Program, you can still study part-time? You don’t even need to change your visa status as long as you study less than 18 hours per week. It’s a great chance to improve your English and make the most of your time abroad!
Getting visitor status
To come to the US as a visitor, you’ll need a short-term visitor visa (type B), or else if you are from certain countries you will be able to apply through the Visa Waiver Program. This program allows citizens of these countries to enter the US for up to 90 days without a visa if they have a valid ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). Applying with an ESTA is much quicker and cheaper than a full visa; you can often be approved in seconds. Visas and ESTAs are acceptable for tourists, for people visiting family and friends, or for people on temporary business.
Adding Lessons to your Trip
Once you’re in the US, you can do any of the activities permitted by a visitor visa. It’s intended for travel, so to qualify for this visa your primary purpose must be visiting the country: you can’t work and you can’t study full-time. You can, however, take short-term classes and study a few hours a day. Our Vacation English courses meet for 3 hours a day, totaling 15 hours a week, which means that they are perfect for a visitor visa or ESTA. That’s why we call it a Vacation English class: you can add these courses while you’re on vacation! You even have the option to add a few one-on-one lessons with your teacher.
Whether you’re in the US to see family or friends, traveling for medical procedures, or visiting for any other number of other reasons, Vacation English is a great way to improve your skills and make the most of your stay without the need to go through the lengthy process of reaching full-time student status. Although you might have fewer lessons than a full-time course, you’ll still use the same proven Kaplan materials, take part in Kaplan’s trusted classes, and have access to online tools to practice as much as you’d like outside of class.
Feeling like a local
With your new English skills, you’ll quickly realize how much easier it is communicate with native speakers across the US, whether you’re taking a long sightseeing tour of the country or staying in one city for the length of your trip. You’ll make new friends with other international students in classes and with American locals you meet along the way. You’ll even be able to ask for directions, listen to recommendations, and express yourself in the native langauge! Not only will the English lessons enhance your trip, but you’ll also be returning home with a new and valuable skill that you can use in your personal and professional life.
"My Vacation English course has 2 lessons per day. I've really learned a lot, and I can use the rest of time sightseeing. I speak a lot in the class so I feel like my speaking is getting more natural every day."
Juri Ogino, Japan
Of course, if you’d like to improve your English as quickly as you can, a full-time visa such as an F-1 will allow you to take more intensive course loads. Nonetheless, you’d be amazed how much progress can be made even with 3 hours a day! Check out our list of schools in exciting cities all over the US and see where your tourist visa can take you!