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Disclaimer: I am new to this forum, so if my question isn't part of the proposal, my apologies.

Where could I learn English as a second language for free in the USA?

I am a graduate student who intends to apply for PhD in the US. However I never left my country (Brazil) and don't have fluency in English.

I am starting to think of it before applying for PhD, like spend six months in US just studying the language and after that starting with the PhD course.

Please, take into account I am thirty year old and have no savings to pay for any English course. Because of that any tips for learning or improving language skills for international students will be appreciated.

Thanks.

Edited: I would like to apply for California Universities.

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  • The USA, like Brazil, is a physically large (and linguistically diverse) country. If you have some idea of where in the USA you intend to study, it might help. Os EUA, como o Brasil, é um país fisicamente grande (e linguisticamente diverso). Se você tem alguma ideia de onde nos EUA pretende estudar, isso pode ajudar. Oct 3 '20 at 14:59
  • Hum, indeed. I would like to apply for California Universities.
    – Rodrigues
    Oct 3 '20 at 15:01
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    Formal study is not the only way to improve one's skill in a language. I have repeatedly heard that the best way to become proficient at a language that one has a basic knowledge of is to use the language. If you come to the USA and live and work here while studying for your PhD, you will become more proficient in English simply by using it on a day-to-day basis. Oct 3 '20 at 15:03
  • O estudo formal não é a única maneira de melhorar a habilidade de alguém em um idioma. Ouvi várias vezes que a melhor maneira de se tornar proficiente em um idioma do qual se tem um conhecimento básico é usar o idioma. Se você vier para os EUA e morar e trabalhar aqui enquanto estuda para o seu doutorado, você se tornará mais proficiente em inglês simplesmente usando-o no dia-a-dia. Oct 3 '20 at 15:03
  • California is a state where there will almost certainly be sources for free English-as-a-second-language classes. If you know where in California you will be, a Google search on "free esl classes in California Los Angeles" will help - change "Los Angeles" to the area you will be in (e.g., San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland, etc.) Oct 3 '20 at 15:06
  • (The Portuguese translations of my earlier comments are generated by Google Translate; I apologize for any inadequacies or errors in them.) Oct 3 '20 at 15:08
  • "…and no savings to pay any english course" Don't you need money to study a PhD course? Don't you need money for rent, living expenses etc? If you can pay for rent and basic groceries you can pay an elderly neighbour or an impoverished student for private lessons/conversations or do an exchange favours set up.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 3 '20 at 15:41
  • I am applying with funding for PhD. But I get your point.
    – Rodrigues
    Oct 3 '20 at 19:36
  • This is a request, not a question. Please take our tour and see how this site works.
    – James K
    Oct 4 '20 at 18:24
  • First of all, seriously! I mean all of you are trying to help this guy with his English but no one thought of editing his post. The beginning of proper English could be from here itself. I am not telling he will learn a lot from this, but being fellow users, isn't it your job to look out for people in need? Also, I am not insinuating that my edit is completely alright, there might be mistakes, I agree. But given that his question was viewed and commented and answered by well reputed users, I find it difficult to understand why didn't someone edit it? Oct 4 '20 at 19:20
  • I understand many might be busy, I am not blaming anybody or pin-pointing someone in particular, rather I am talking in general. Oct 4 '20 at 19:22
  • @Dhanishtha Be careful, editing an ON TOPIC post on ELL means making it comprehensible. Fixing all the errors is what proofreaders do for a living. We are not a free proofreading service. This question was not on topic for the main site because it was never about an English language problem.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 6 '20 at 4:50
  • @Mari-LouA I understand that it was not an English question. I appreciate it was migrated here. But the question was definitely incomprehensible there, so even if it was migrated without editing, it would have been the same result. However I don't know if editing is allowed on Meta sites or not. And I wouldn't say it was a total proofreading, because it was basic grammatical changes and proper sentence formation. Oct 6 '20 at 6:30
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The USA, like Brazil, is a physically large country. If you know where you intend to study, you may be able to find ESL (English as a Second Language) resources in that area through a Google search for "free esl classes california los angeles", changing "california los angeles" to wherever it is that you will be studying.

Formal study is not the only way to improve one's skill in a language. I have repeatedly heard that the best way to become proficient at a language that one has a basic knowledge of is to use the language. If you come to the USA and live and work here while studying for your PhD, you will become more proficient in English simply by using it on a day-to-day basis.

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To get into good US universities, you have to take the TOEFL test of English. You may also have to take the Graduate Record Exam, for most good colleges, if you want to study at a Phd level. The GRE assumes a good command of English.

Here is an explanation about the TOEFL test:

Test of English as a Foreign Language

Some places also accept the IELTS.

To receive a student visa for the US, you have to have already been accepted by a university. And to be accepted by a university, you have to have taken the TOEFL test.

It would be very weird to arrive as a tourist and then switch to a student visa. So, I doubt you can spend [passar] six months in the US and then become a Phd candidate. And I am not sure you can switch your status so easily.

Regardless of all that, as far as I know, there are no free, high-level classes for these tests. There might be some online sites that provide guidance, though. There are free GED (high-school diploma equivalent) courses and the English part of those courses might help you. In fact, you could do a GED in California for the purpose of learning English but do not have to tell them that.

ERGO: Here is my advice to you. Before you try and go to the states, find out specifically where you want to study (the college or university) and check their requirements.

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Immersion is the best way to learn any language, and just being here will force you to interact with native speakers all day long and naturally improve your skills.

Finding free ESL classes in California shouldn’t be difficult (though they may be targeted at Spanish speakers), and your college may have programs to help foreign students adjust. These classes would mostly help you understand details that most native speakers “just know” and can’t explain in a way that makes sense to non-natives, in addition to what you’ll pick up from the immersion.

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  • You can't get into a US university if you don't speak English....And this person needs a student visa to get into the country....
    – Lambie
    Oct 3 '20 at 16:55
  • @Lambie That would be a good comment on the Q. I was just addressing what he asked.
    – StephenS
    Oct 3 '20 at 16:58
  • Yes! I already have a Upper intermediary (B2) or 6,0 ietls. What I asked was if I could improve the language there in USA. Because this grades are not sufficient to apply for phd
    – Rodrigues
    Oct 3 '20 at 19:44

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