Group of students taking notes in class

English language courses

The UK is the world centre for English language tuition. Over 500,000 people come to the UK each year to learn English. UK institutions offer a variety of English language courses to suit all needs

English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. It is the major language for computing, education, business, international communications and the Internet. Learning English can open up many new opportunities, leading to a better job, more options in education, or just the satisfaction of learning a new skill.

Studying English in the UK

Although you can learn English in your home country, coming to the UK to study has lots of benefits.

The UK offers high-quality tuition in an English-speaking environment, which can make learning the language faster and easier. You can immerse yourself in the culture of the UK, which can help broaden your horizons and allow you to meet new friends and contacts.

Many courses lead to qualifications. You may need an English language qualification to:

  • gain entry to an academic programme
  • improve your job prospects or employability
  • demonstrate that you have good English skills.

If you plan to take an English course or test as a condition of entry to an academic programme, you should check in advance that the qualification you will obtain is acceptable.

What is available?

There is a huge range of English language courses available for all levels from beginners up to advanced students. There are also specialised courses designed for particular careers, such as aviation, computing or business, or for different academic disciplines.

The British Council has more information about the various types of course.

Practical details

Entry requirements

You do not usually need any formal qualifications to be accepted onto an English language course, although you may be asked to take a test to find out your level of English language ability. Be aware that if you want to take an English language course alongside your main academic course, you’ll need to satisfy the entrance requirements for your main course of study.


The cost of the course depends on the length of the course and the size of the class. Expect to pay around £100 a week for large-class tuition or £300+ a week for small-class or individual tuition.

Living costs in the UK vary, depending on where you study. As a rough guide, you should be prepared to pay around £800 a month in London and around £650 a month elsewhere. In general, the further north you go, the cheaper the living costs are.

Tuition and assessment

Most English language courses will encourage you to ‘learn by using’. That is, you will be encouraged to take part in discussions and use English instead of simply studying it.

Most UK universities use discussion as a key tuition method, so it’s good to gain experience of group discussion work.

The way you are assessed will depend on the course and institution you study at. Your coursework may be continually assessed or you may have to take an exam at the end of your course.

Exams are usually held at set times during the year, so be sure to find out when they are before you apply.


You must ensure that the qualifications you study for are recognised in your home country as well as the UK.

Where can you study English?

Check out our listing of the UK’s accredited English language schools.

The British Council runs an accreditation scheme for English language-teaching centres (Accreditation UK). Centres with British Council accreditation are regularly inspected to make sure teaching is of a high professional standard. Bodies wanting to offer English language tuition to international students in the UK now need a sponsor licence from the UK Border Agency before they can do this. Valid accreditation from bodies approved by the Agency is a minimum requirement; Accreditation UK is one of these bodies.

English UK is the national association for British Council-accredited English language-teaching centres.

Find out where you can study at an English UK-accredited language school in the UK.

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