UK Student Life homepage
Study, work or travel in the UK. British culture and life.
A-Z index
Message Board
Contact us
Learn English at a language school in Chester
English in Britain: search for language courses in the UK
TEFL Lab: English teacher training courses in London
Learn English at the English Studio Language School in central London
Rossall Summer School English courses for children aged 11-17
< Up
Course / Language
Find an English language school in the UK
Visa requirements
  Choosing a school
  Course types
  Additional study
  Time of year
  London schools
Related pages:
Guide (information for all types of student)
  Vocational courses (study job-related subjects)
  Short courses (summer school classes)
  University / college (1-year diploma/exchange, or undergraduate degree)
  Distance learning (study a UK-based course in your own country)


You can use the UK Visas official website to check if you need a visa to come to the UK to study:
Note that the immigration rules can change at any time, so always check official websites for the latest rules.

If you hold a passport from a country which is a member of the European Union or of the European Economic Area or are from Switzerland you should not need a visa to come to the UK to study.

If you are from other countries you will probably need a visa to come to the UK to study.
There are two types of visa:
- Student visitor visa: this allows you to study for a period of up to 6 months, after which you must leave the UK. You do not have permission to work.
- Tier 4 (general) visa: this allows you to study a course in the UK. Your language school must be on a list of trusted schools and there is a minimum level at which you can study. You may be allowed to work in the UK, but the number of hours you can work is restricted (currently the limit is 10 hours per week during term).

For more details about student visas, see: Prepare/Visa.

Back to top


These are some of the ways to find a language school in the UK:
- Use the English In Britain website:
- See the list of schools which are accredited by the British Council. There is a list here:
- Ask an agent to help to organise a school and your travel, see: Prepare/Agent

The most popular language school locations in the UK are in London, Oxford and Cambridge. There are many schools in some towns on the south coast of England such as Brighton, Bournemouth, Eastbourne and Hastings - these are especially busy during the summer. There are also schools in most other major cities such as Manchester, York or Edinburgh. You can find photos and information about these and other locations in the UK in this section: Travel/Tours/UK.
There is some more information below about schools in London.

Once you have found a language school, check if you have considered the following points. If these points are important to you and you cannot find the answers on the school's website or in its brochure, ask the school for details before you enrol:

- What facilities does the school have? Is there a library or study room? Are there computers or special language learning facilities?
- Where is the school located?
- How big is the school (what is the maximum number of students it can take)?

- What qualifications do the teachers have? Have all the teachers completed courses in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL)? How much teaching experience do they have?
- What are the nationalities of the teachers? Are they British? Are they native English speakers?

Courses / exams
- Are courses offered throughout the year, or just summer programmes? Note that schools which only operate in summer are not as well regulated.
- Is there a full structured course, or a set of modules designed for students taking short-term courses?
- Are there specialised English courses (business English, English conversation etc)?
- For which exams does the school prepare students?
- On what dates do courses begin? Courses with weekly intakes may be less well structured, but may have a more convenient start date for you.
- When does the school close for holidays?
- Is there any recommended study material to read before the course starts?
- What textbooks and teaching methods are used?
- Is there a minimum study period?
- Is there an entrance test? For higher level courses some schools may need you to have a minimum IELTS or TOEFL score, or to show a high school leaving certificate.

- What is the maximum class size? What is the average class size? A class size of up to 10 is small, 10-15 is average and over 15 students is large.
- What proportion of the students are of your nationality (this may be a particularly important consideration for Japanese, Spanish and Italian students, or at schools whose students are sent mainly from agents in one country). There are schools at which more than half of all students are from one country at some times of the year.
- What is the typical age range of students in the class?
- At what time of day are the classes? Are there different prices for morning and afternoon classes (in general morning classes are the most popular and may be more expensive than afternoon classes)?
- Each week, how many hours of classes are there? At least 15 hours per week are required for a student visa (these classes should be between 9am-6pm Monday to Friday - not in the evenings or at weekends).
- Into how many levels of ability are students divided? How does the school decide your level?
- Can you change classes if you want to study under a different teacher or if you find the lessons too easy or difficult?
- Is it possible for you to join one of the classes before you enrol, to check if it is suitable for you (if you are already in the UK)?

- How much do the courses cost? Is there a registration fee? There is a great variation in course costs (depending on class sizes, the level of experience of the teachers, the school facilities and its location).
- Does the course fee include VAT (value added tax)?
- Does the course fee include books or other study materials?
- If you are applying directly rather than using an agent, is there any discount available?
- What is the policy about refunds if you have to stop going to the course for some reason?
- What happens if the school closes for some reason (for example if it goes bankrupt)?
- If you are want to get a job while you are studying, how easy will it be to find a part-time job close to your school and accommodation? Note that if you need a visa to come to the UK there may be limits on the number of hours you are allowed to work.

- Does the school provide help with visas / banks / work placements / airport collection?
- Does the school provide help finding accommodation? Is this included within the course fees? What kind of accommodation is there? How far is it from the school, and what will be the cost of travelling there each day?
- Does the school organise any social events or excursions? Are there extra charges for these?
- How much support is given to help you adjust to the UK, or to help with problems?

Back to top


The most common are General English courses and courses for particular exams (see English/Exams for a list of the most popular English language exams).
However, there are a wide variety of English courses offered courses (including some which are combined with business or sport activities), for example:
British culture; Christmas holiday course; Conversation; Easter holiday course; Executive; General; Home tuition; Intensive; Junior; One-to-one; Pronunciation; Summer holiday course
Academic: Academic purposes; Examinations; Pre-sessional (preparation for a university course); Teacher training
Industry: Aviation; Engineering; Hotel/catering management; Journalism; Medicine/health/nursing; Military; Petroleum; Tourism/travel
Business: Banking; Business; Computing; Finance; Law; Management; Marketing/advertising; Secretarial; Translation
Arts: Art/design; Fashion; Interior design; Literature; Music; Performing arts
Sports: Football; Golf

These are some of the general expressions which you may see used to describe types of English courses:
ESOL - English for Speakers of Other Languages: These classes are usually intended for people whose first language is not English but who have immigrated to the UK (meaning that they have come to live permanently in the UK).
EFL - English as a Foreign Language: Teaching of English to people who live in countries where English is not an official language of the country (for example: teaching people from mainland Europe, East Asia or South America, either in their own country or in the UK).
- English as a Second Language: This refers to teaching English to people from countries where English is widely used in everyday life, although the country also has a different national language. There are many such countries in the Commonwealth (for example: India, Nigeria and Singapore). It also refers to teaching of immigrants in English speaking countries. Because English language teaching in the US has historically been mainly to immigrants, this is the term generally used for English courses in the US
EAP - English for Academic Purposes: courses designed to prepare foreign students to study an academic course at a UK college or university. The course may be either pre-sessional (before the start of the course) or in-sessional (during your course)
ESP - English for Special Purposes: Some English language courses are designed for people having a particular specialised interest in studying English, for example for their jobs or for their academic studies
ELT - English Language Teaching: Courses for people who want to teach English to others
English Plus - English courses (especially at summer schools) which include social activities, group travel or sports training.

If you cannot find the particular type of course you require, contact the British Council in your country for advice. To find their nearest offices, see:

Back to top


Once you are studying in the UK you may want to investigate other ways of studying English in addition to your main course, especially if you wish to improve more quickly or to concentrate on certain language skills. Note that these extra studies are not included as part of your visa requirements.

- Schools which have teacher training programmes may offer cheap practice lessons which are given by trainee teachers.
For example, the courses given by trainee teachers at International House London are described here:,119,ART.html.

- You may be able to join a further education course, typically a weekly evening class or weekend class in a local school or public building.
Usually these courses will be for a minimum of one term (often September-December, January-March or April-June).

- There may be some private classes for which you can pay each time that you attend.
For example in London the English Club, part of London International Meetup, offers 2-hour evening lessons once a week:

- Many teachers offer individual tuition. This can be expensive, but the cost can be reduced if you can find another student to share the lessons.
Teachers will advertise their services locally or online.

Back to top


Some of the things you may want to consider when you consider what time of year to study English in the UK:

Season Months Notes
Spring March
A time when many students arrive from countries where the academic year begins in April. The weather changes quickly. A mixture of sunshine and showers. The second of the three terms in the UK academic year starts in April.
Summer June
July and August are the busiest months for tourists. It may be difficult to find cheap, good quality accommodation. Air fares may be more expensive. Transport may be busy.There may be many European school children or university students taking short courses at language schools during their summer holidays (especially Italian and Spanish students).If you are studying at a university, some of the facilities may be closed.The warmest and sunniest months of the year.It remains light until late at night (sunset is after 10pm in June). More temporary jobs may be available
Autumn September
The start of the first term of the UK academic year: most school, university or college courses start in late September or early October. It may be more difficult to find student accommodation in places where there are many British students.
Winter December
Courses may be cheaper (some schools offer discounts). Classes may have fewer students; students may be older and more motivated to learn. It may be easier to find centrally located accommodation, and transport may be less crowded. The weather is often cold or wet (this could make it easier to spend time indoors for studying). It gets dark early in the afternoon (sunset is before 4pm in December). Schools may be closed over Christmas and New Year (from end December to early January). Shopping season: Christmas shopping and then January sales. The second of the three terms in the UK academic year starts in January

There are likely to be more students of your nationality during the times of the main school and university holidays in your own country. For example, the largest number of students from South America (especially from Brazil and Argentina) come to the UK in January, February and July. The largest number of European students (especially from Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Turkey and Russia) arrive in July and August. Asian students (especially from Japan, Korea and China) usually stay in the UK for longer than European students. Although the largest number of Asian students are in the UK from July to September, they make up a higher proportion of the total number of students at other times of the year, when there are fewer European students.

Back to top


When you are looking through lists of language schools in London it can be difficult to locate them quickly.
This postcode map may help you. If you know the postcode of a school then you can locate its approximate position using this map.
The most central areas have a postcode beginning with WC ("west central") or EC ("east central").
The other London postcodes indicate the direction: E ("east"), N ("north"), NW ("north-west"), W ("west"), SW ("south-west"), SE ("south-east").
There are also areas with different postcodes which are a bit less central but are in the area called "greater London". These start with the codes shown outside the map.

The following list is of accredited schools in the London area which were members of English UK at the end of 2007. They are grouped by postcode area. The colour of the shading is the same as in the map above.

Postcode School name Website
WC1 Bell International, London
WC1 Bloomsbury International
WC1 Kaplan International Colleges London Covent Garden
WC1 Language in London
WC1 Language Studies International London Central
WC1 St Giles International, London Central
WC1 The English Studio Language School
WC2 Avalon School of English
WC2 EC London
WC2 International House London
WC2 Kaplan International Colleges London Leicester Square
WC2 Leicester Square School of English
WC2 One to One English
WC2 Regent London
WC2 Sels College London
EC2 InTuition Languages
EC3 Communicaid
EC3 Our World English Schools
E1 Queen Mary, University of London
E17 Waltham Forest College
N2 Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute
N6 St Giles International, London Highgate
N7 London Metropolitan University
N10 Excel English
N14 Southgate College
NW1 Internexus - Regent's College
NW1 Tti School of English
NW3 Hampstead School of English
NW3 Language Studies International London Hampstead
NW6 ESOL Intensive at the College of North West London
NW8 Academy SJW (St John's Wood School of English)
NW9 Barnet College
NW11 Golders Green College
W1 British Study Centres London
W1 Central School of English
W1 Eden House College
W1 London Meridian College
W1 Malvern House London
W1 Mayfair School of English
W1 Oxford House College, London
W1 Rose of York Language School
W1 Saint George International
W1 Shane Global Language Centres London Central
W1 United International College Limited (UIC)
W1 University of the Arts London, The Language Centre
W1 University of Westminster
W1 Westminster Kingsway College
W2 SKOLA Group: English in London
W2 Stanton School of English
W5 LTC London (formerly GEOS English Academy)
W5 Languages Plus London Ltd/Edwards Language School
W6 Active Learning
W12 King Street College Ltd.
W12 London Empire Academy
W14 Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College
W14 The London School of English
SW1 Eurocentres London Central
SW1 Victoria School of English
SW4 English Language Training (ELT)
SW6 Burlington School of English
SW6 London Study Centre
SW7 Frances King School of English (London)
SW7 Language Link
SW15 South Thames College London
SW19 CES/Swandean School of English, Wimbledon
SW19 London College Wimbledon
SW19 Milner School of English, Wimbledon
SW19 Wimbledon Language Academy
SW19 Wimbledon School of English
SE1 EF International Language School, London
SE1 Southwark College
SE3 Eurocentres London Lee Green
SE8 Embassy CES London
SE13 Twin English Centre London
SE18 Greenwich Community College (GCC London)

Back to top


Using an education travel agent: Prepare/Agent
The cost of living in the UK: Prepare/Cost
UK immigration issues: Prepare/Visa
Guide to British towns: Travel/Tours/UK

Home page: Home

Back to top

© UK Student Life 2002-2011

* Search this website ( or the web: