Britain is a very popular place for students to study because of its multiculturalism, meaning that no matter where you are from.
It is thought that nearly half a million people travel to the UK every year to learn English. Britain is, of course, the birthplace of the English language and where you can hear the most authentic expressions and accents.
Britain is a very popular place for students to study because of its multiculturalism, meaning that no matter where you are from, if you are in one of the big cities you can always find a community of people from your own country. Nowhere is this truer than in London. London is a huge city with a lot to see and do, and it has something for everyone.
Known for its black taxi cabs, red buses and underground transport system, London is a bustling city where approximately 300 languages are spoken in the city alone. From world-famous museums and architectural wonders to palaces, parks, galleries, and lots of other fun and interesting attractions, London is a city in which you'll never be short of something to do.
You can visit Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, The Tower of London, and many other places synonymous with the history and character of London and old England. England is generally a country that likes to preserve its heritage, so you'll find everything from centuries-old buildings to high street shopping, charming pubs to upscale Michelin Star restaurants. In London you can find food from every place in the world, a lively and modern music scene and more traditional pursuits - it’s difficult to become bored in this amazing city.
London is a large and culturally diverse city, divided into a number of different areas. Click here to see what's available in each one.
Things to look out for
The things you will usually hear Londoners complain about are:
1. the weather
2. how expensive everything is
3. the isolation of living in such a big city
The weather in the UK can be challenging for visitors and students who are used to warmer climates. In Winter there aren’t many hours of sunlight either. Expect the weather to be cold and be prepared for a lot of rain.
London can be a very expensive place to live with the average rent in the suburbs costing as much as £1,819 per month (at time of writing). That's €2,112.59. So, unless you have a very impressive job or income, be prepared to share your accommodation with others. You'll likely need to add your expenses the cost of your bus ticket or underground (metro) if you need to get to school and work each day.
Monthly tickets for transportation cost around £139 with basic pub lunches around £11 and dinner in a pub averaging around £34.
Getting a Visa
As a student in the UK you can apply for a short-term study visa up to three months before your intended date of travel. This is the most straightforward option for students of English for courses lasting up to 11 months. On a short-term student visa you are not permitted to work during your stay and you cannot extend your stay.
If you have a minimum level of English and have been offered a place on a course you can also apply for a Tier 4 General Student visa. With this visa you also have the option to work while you study and also to apply to extend your stay if required. In order to prove your level of English, you must pass a SELT (Secure English Language Test). This is about the same as achieving a B1 level in CELF (Common European Language Framework).
Visit https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/student-visas for more information on getting a visa for your visit to the UK.
When it comes to where to study, London is full of different options and opportunities. You can, of course, have private lessons once or twice a week with a tutor; or you can enrol in a language school, most of which offer the opportunity to take a recognised exam.
There are lots of different courses to cater for every possible student need and interest. Academic English, Business English, and Social English are a few examples of what is on offer. Some schools even offer free classes with teachers who are training, and these can be a good way of finding out about a school before enrolling on a course or for those hoping to learn English while they are working abroad.
There are many kinds of schools with different reputations, some which have very high standards and are recognised by Oxford, Cambridge or the British Council; while others are businesses designed to make as much money from their students as possible. So, do some research and make sure to ask questions about what you can expect to achieve and if there is a recognised certificate at the end.
For this reason, courses can range in price from £75 to £2,000 depending on the hours, length and reputation of the teachers.
Travelling within the UK
London's world-class public transport system means it is one of the most connected cities in the world, and there are travel cards and student discount offers. Take advantage of these travel cards to venture further afield, as the British rail network can bring you to Cornwall, Liverpool, Manchester, Cardiff (in Wales), or even as far north as Edinburgh or Glasgow in Scotland. It is generally worth booking train tickets in advance as they can often be expensive.
The UK is also an excellent base for seeing more of Europe with many budget airlines operating from its busiest three airports.
Working in London
Depending on which country you come from, there may be visa restrictions on your right to work in the UK. It is worth checking this out before you arrive - if you don't have the right to work you will need quite a lot of money to support yourself for a couple of months studying in London and you may need to be able to prove this. However, as a student, you have a lot of options for finding a part-time job. London is full of restaurants, coffee shops, cafes, high street shops, markets, cinemas and shopping malls which are often looking for part-time staff. There is a lot of competition, so make sure your CV is up to date and you have it checked by a native English speaker or your English teacher. Basic pay is £8.21 (at time of writing). If you're working in a restaurant it is often easy to make tips on top of this, and most reputable restaurants will offer you a discount on meals while you are working.
Categories: Learn English abroad