English, already the de facto business language, has slowly crept into many individuals’ personal lives. Just look at Netflix: without knowing English, how else will you watch the newest season of House of Cards?! Beyond studying this popular language, you can opt to try on a wide range of other languages in the UK — from those that are spoken all over the world to others that are only spoken by a few (cheers to you, 300-remaining- Cornish-speakers!). Life in the UK will present a complete language learning experience: an immersive environment, easy access to the rest of the continent, delectable fish and chips, and a variety of lagers to wash those new vocab words down.
The United Kingdom is one of the most visited places in the world, so it won’t be hard to convince your friends and family to pop over for a spell. Plus, while they’re they’re visiting, you can show off your new skills over a cuppa with them. Get ready for a (punctual) good time at any language school in the UK!
London, England is the capital, the place to be, and the center of the United Kingdom. Need we say more? With over eight million people in the London area, you won’t ever get lonely and you’ll always have something to do. There are many languages spoken in England, and plenty of universities and private language schools to help you learn one. Beyond the classroom, you can explore the Westminster Abbey, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and the Tower of London. London Bridge isn’t falling down, so it’ll fit right into your Instagram!
Loch Lomond, Scotland, which is located just outside of Glasgow, is a popular leisure destination. Here you can study German, the Romantic languages of French, Italian, and Spanish, and get involved with other activities with your classmates — like filmmaking and animation. You’ll love all of the watersports available to do in your free time, from kayaking to boating. In the heart of the highlands, you might even spot good ol’ Nessie while you’re here.
Belfast, Northern Ireland is the birthplace of the Titanic and located on the east coast, but don’t worry, learning a language in Belfast isn’t sink or swim! Explore Winterfell as you take on the challenge of learning a foreign language in Northern Ireland. With plenty of clubs to join and indoor sports to play, you’ll have tons of opportunities to practice your kick-butt new language skills. When you’re not conjugating verbs, stroll through the Botanic Gardens and marvel at the Grand Opera House and St. Anne’s Cathedral.
Language Programs in the UK
If you like the being on campus in the midst of the hustle and bustle or in a smaller, controlled learning environment, it’s your lucky day — language schools in the UK offer all the above. The UK offers you a chance to study languages under some of the world’s best professors in some of the world’s top universities. Just imagine studying in a castle one day and seeing the cityscapes or the countryside the next.
Intensive summer programs are a great option for anyone on a tight schedule who want to dive right in and study in smaller classes with more one-on-one instruction.
Obviously, you can learn the English language in the UK (people from all over the world travel here to pick up its famously posh accent!). Other language opportunities include Polish, Arabic, or Portuguese, as large populations of these native speakers have communities here. If you have a love affair with dying languages, consider studying Scots, Welsh, Scots Gaelic, or, heck — Cornish (bring that tally to 301!).
Costs & Affordability
The United Kingdom can be a bit expensive. On average, you’re looking at a 30 percent higher cost of living than in the United States, so get ready to use Craigslist to find some flatmates; unless you own a small bank or won the lottery recently, you’ll be looking at other ways to cut costs. Some language learners take a more traditional approach by living in a shared flat with strangers (i.e. “The Real World”).
No matter where you’re coming from, the United Kingdom will be a little more pricey than what you’re used to, but you can charge it to the experience. For example, an average bottle of wine will cost ~£10, your weekly grocery budget should be about £50, and an average meal is £15. As currency exchanges are always in motion, be sure to check online to get an exact amount for your home currency’s value.
Accommodation & Visas
If you’re not interested in staying in a flat, you might like the idea of working as an au pair while living in a homestay to get complete cultural immersion throughout your language learning process. Host families can offer advice and recommendations for places to go and things to see, so you can get the most of your language program in the UK. You can also choose to stay in student dorms, residence halls, hostels, and hotels — there are so many opportunities to meet other students from all over the world!
Whether this is or isn’t your first rodeo with a visa process, it’s always recommended to speak with a professional. Students will need a visa or at least an entry visa depending on the duration of the program. Not to worry, most language schools in the UK will handle your visa process. When applying for your visa, you’ll need a few basic items, such as photocopies of your passport, a completed application, and a modest fee for processing. To make things a little simpler, you can also contact a UK Embassy in your home country; find contact information in GoAbroad’s United Kingdom Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
When you go abroad to attend language school in the UK, you will be faced with daily challenges of your own. Even though you might not experience the same language barrier as in Urumqi, China, you will have to adapt to the slang and dialects you hear. The customs and etiquette will also be slightly different, so take care to do your research ahead of time. People in the UK are very polite people, but you’ll have to learn their dry sense of humor.
Don’t let the downsides fool you, you will have MANY more ups than downs. You’ll be joining a global community, learning the ways of another culture, and gaining international skills. Not to mention, you’ll also have a conversation starter when employers see you took on a language endeavor abroad in the UK. You’ll also have several opportunities to scratch that travel itch with a weekend getaway by riding the “chunnel” to Paris or taking a train to other cities in Western Europe.
The United Kingdom is full of history, culture, and provides the best opportunity to learn not only the English language, but other languages as well. Are you staring at your computer debating what to do next? Should you pre-order the next iPhone or should you pack your bags to visit the Queen for afternoon tea? Go with the latter, you’ll thank yourself for it.