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English language courses and qualifications

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Choose the right course for you

Across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, there are thousands of English language courses on offer. Perhaps you want to do a course just for fun? Maybe you want to gain an internationally-recognised qualification to help you enter university? Or perhaps you want to improve your business English skills?

In the UK, you can choose a course that is suited to your:

  • Age group: There are courses specifically for children, teenagers or adults of different ages

  • Ability: You can choose a course for beginners, intermediate or advanced learners

  • Interests and ambitions: You can choose a general English course or one with a particular focus – for example, you may want to train to be an English teacher or do a business English course. You don’t have to study English on its own either – you could combine it with another subject, such as art, tourism, fashion, football or science.

Preparing for UK further education or higher education

To study at further education or higher education level in the UK, you need good English language skills, so that you can understand your tutors and follow the course successfully.

If English isn’t your first language, most UK schools, colleges and universities will ask you to demonstrate your English language skills before you can enrol on a further or higher education course. For example, they may ask you to:

  • Take their English language test, or
  • Gain an English language qualification, or
  • Do a short course or foundation course to improve your skills.

Each school, college and university sets its own entry requirements. If you are interested in a particular course, email the school, college or university to find out about their English language requirements, or have a look at their website. 

For adult students: if you need a Tier 4 visa for your further or higher education, please visit the UK Visas and Immigration website for information about the English language requirements for Tier 4.

Study modes

English language courses can be part-time or full-time. Full-time courses are usually around 15 to 24 hours of classes per week. You can choose a course lasting anything from a day to a year.

Holiday and vacation courses are very popular in the summer (June, July and August), and are a great way to fit your studies around your job or your school life.

The most sociable way to learn English is to join a course where you will learn alongside other students in a class, but for a more personal experience, you could choose one-to-one tuition.

As well as courses in the UK, a number of UK English language centres have established campuses overseas. Have a look at our article Study for a UK qualification… outside the UK.

The academic year

In the UK, the typical academic year for school, college and university starts in September and runs until June or July. English language courses are far more flexible. Courses that start in September, January and July are particularly popular, but there are lots of other choices too.