global gateway program

When you arrive

Improving your English at university

International students hanging out on the University of Vermont campus

Settling into university in the USA can feel like a real challenge if you do not feel confident in your English speaking skills. Pathway programs at UVM will help you settle in and improve your English, but there are also plenty of things you can do yourself to help boost your confidence and your language skills.

There is no rush

One of the best things you can do is give yourself time. No-one is expecting you to be fluent in English when you arrive – or even after a year. Do not put too much pressure on yourself! Give yourself the best chance by being open to new opportunities, and you will soon be making new friends from all over the world. 

You are not alone

Students on UVM’s pathway programs come from all over the world. Many of them have never left their home countries before, and those who have may still be working on their English. There will be people who feel exactly like you, so do not be afraid to open up. The more you communicate, the better your English skills will become!

Try new things

UVM has nearly 200 clubs and societies, most of which are open to international students. Join a few and you will soon feel at home. It can be tricky to find the confidence to join in, but everyone there was new once. Clubs are a relaxed and informal way to get to know people and practise your English. Whatever your interests, there will be something for you.

Fun ways to learn

One of the best – and easiest – ways to improve your English is to listen. Why not invite a friend round to watch American TV, or a film? It will be more fun than learning from books, and you will stay up to date with new words and phrases. Listening to music is also a good way to learn English without really having to think about it. Surround yourself with American culture, and you will feel part of it. One of the most important things at university is managing your work/life balance. This gives you a chance to relax, and know you are learning at the same time.


With support from teachers, and practice, you will settle in and soon be able to communicate smoothly in English. Enjoy the challenge and take it one day at a time.

Get involved

 Follow us on social media using the hashtags #MyUVMStory and #YouAreWelcomeHere. We want to see your stories of university life in the US.

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