Studying the English language in the United Kingdom
Updated last year

Learning English in the United Kingdom makes it easier to know more about the local culture and the country as a whole. It also helps to improve your language and overall skills.  

The United Kingdom is undeniably the birthplace of the English language. The country has a rich literary heritage and history, which are both taught and experienced as you learn the language of the country.

Summer schools, International English schools and private tutors can be found anywhere in the UK. You can choose to either study in one of the bustling cities, close to the coastline, or in the tranquil countryside. In any case, your aim, preferences and budget will influence your choice.

Assess your language level

Most tutors and schools will give require you to take a preliminary test so as to know in which class you would fit best and which curriculum is the most appropriate for you. It is best to inform them regarding any prior studies and qualifications you have acquired or to take an English online test. Knowing your English level will make it easier for you to get the right course, reasonable length, and best result.

Tips for improving your English while in your home country

1. Watch English movies and series, preferably with English subtitles. This will teach you the accent as well as the behaviour.
2. Interact with English-speaking people around you. Attend the events that are in their language in your town or city, or visit the local British council.
3. Refresh your grammar. Read new books, websites and get phone apps like Duolingo and Memrise. If you want to add some more grammar, read novels and spot new words.
4. Practice your English speaking, listening and writing skills with your private English teacher who will be able to spot your weaknesses.


Familiarise yourself with the internationally recognised CEFR English level. Many schools and teachers in the UK use this.

Requirements for Undergraduate and Postgraduate English language courses

Many students travel to the UK to learn English with the hope that they will be accepted into one of the prestigious UK universities or higher education institutions. However, it is worth noting that Undergraduate and Postgraduate degrees across the world require a certain level of English.

If you wish to study English to enter the UK, take the time to research the requirements of your desired institution. The most popular qualifications are IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Cambridge English, Advanced (otherwise known as the Certificate in Advanced English/CAE, or Cambridge ESOL).

Check the profile of your desired UK university in the complete university guide, and then find English courses that will give you the desired certification.


Make sure to read all terms and conditions before you sign up for a course. Some cheap courses may require high fees for certification.

The different ways to learn English in the UK

There are limitless options for learning English in the UK but your choice will generally be determined by your aim, budget, level of English and preferences.

Summer English language schools

English language summer schools are all around England. They are often found in universities or operating as private schools during the summer holidays. Courses may be held in an exquisite atmosphere with options on accommodation, meal, etc. included in the package.

Explore summer schools if you are:
a. a parent who wants their child to learn English in a safe and engaging environment.
b. a student who wishes to improve your English language skills during the holidays.
c. an adult who intends to do an extensive course over a short period.


The chosen school must be accredited by the British Council and employ qualified teachers. Have a look at the Summer School website for examples of the most popular English language school.

International language schools

International language schools are similar to summer schools. They have a set curriculum and additionally offer accommodation and dining packages. They are open year-round and are tailored for the needs of English language students only. Choose an international language school according to your lifestyle. You can live and study either in a countryside manor, around the beach, or the heart of the city in the UK.

Both international and summer schools offer cultural activities which makes it easier to socialise and share knowledge about their language, culture and country.


Make sure that the international school is accredited and employs only teachers with recognised qualifications to teach English and foreign languages.

Private English language courses

If you live and work in the UK, or are able to travel regularly to the UK, you can hire a personal tutor to help you improve your language skills. Private tutors are generally more flexible regarding the learning schedule and the rate per hour.

Seek an accredited tutor, especially if you need a recognised English language certification. Feel free to ask for the proof of their affiliation with recognised educational institutions in the UK like the British council, EFL, or TEFL.

English language course fees

The more you pay, the higher are your chances of getting a higher quality experience. Prices may vary according to the length and type of English course you pick.

The average fees for private tutors amounts to £15-£35 per hour, but this is often negotiable.

The price of English language schools (Summer and International) depends on the chosen package. If you want accommodation, excursions, and meals, to be included in your package, you will naturally pay more. Depending on your budget, make sure to compare prices from different schools before choosing.

If accommodation is not required, you can look for short term rentals around the school, and check for the amount you might probably spend on food every week (between £20 and£40 usually).

Reflect on your goals as you decide. If it is for personal development, the intensity might be minimal, shorter, compared to those requiring it for international studies or workplace communication.

You can view ratings and reviews of each school or teachers on several websites and forums.

What you need to know before you come to study English in the UK

Student visa

If you are a citizen of EU-EEA or Switzerland, you do not need a visa to study in the UK. If you come from a third country, you will need a student visa. To get your visa, you will require the letter of acceptance from an institution, specifying the length of stay. Find more information in the UK Expat Guide.

Good to know:

Rights and freedom of movement of EU citizens in the UK may significantly change after 2020 due to the Brexit.

UK currency

If you don't want your card to be blocked, inform your bank that you will be studying abroad. Without means of getting money, you will feel like being stranded in the UK. Bring cash as a security measure too.

The official UK currency is Pound Sterling, so other currencies are not accepted in stores and businesses. Remember to exchange your currency before departure and to keep some cash with you. You may contact your bank to get an international debit card that acts as a credit card but with no charges.


Euros are not accepted anywhere in the UK for any purpose whatsoever, except in international airports, ferries, mainland Europe, and Eurostar train stations in London, Paris or Brussels.

UK travel insurance

For EU citizens, the EU health insurance card is valid and provides coverage for three months maximum in the UK. You can get the European Health Insurance card directly with the health services in your home country. However, the EU insurance card does not provide coverage in case of loss or damage to your personal items like electric equipment, money or property, or if you engage in extreme sports. For citizens residing outside the EU, it is important to purchase the appropriate health insurance before coming to study in the UK. Feel free to use insurance comparison websites before choosing.

Packing for your trip to the UK

The United Kingdom has a rainy and cold climate that generally varies from one region to another, so some can be warmer. Bring the appropriate clothing for the season and the region you will be living in. The UK also uses G-Plug sockets, so unless you have an adapter, most international sockets won't work. Find more information in the article about what to bring to the UK.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.