TweetMoving abroad is obviously a very exciting prospect. The chance to explore a new country and experience a different culture, all whilst making some cool new friends and unforgettable memories along the way.
However for some it can also seem a little daunting, especially if you´re not fluent in the language of your chosen destination. Here we have compiled a list of 6 things you should think about when considering England as your place to learn English, and which we hope will help you with your decisions in gaining the best possible learning experience.
1. Which school should I choose?
The most important aspect you should consider when learning anything is the school you´re going to study at. Rest assured that England has some of the most reputable English learning institutions in the world. It is after all the motherland of the English language! So, on this front it is rather difficult to go wrong. One thing we would point out however is to check that any course you are considering is accredited by the British Council. Studying at an accredited centre has a number of advantages, from highly qualified teachers to safe premises with fully equipped classrooms. For example, we talked to Felix from Switzerland, 17, who spent a period of time studying at the accredited The English Studio school in London. He told us he found the learning environment to be “very comfortable and relaxed”, while the “good range of teaching techniques helped my English to improve a lot in only a short time”.
2. Keeping within your budget
Your finances and what money you have available to you will obviously have a say in what is and isn´t available to you throughout your stay. It goes without saying that London is significantly more expensive than other parts of the country, in terms of rent and general living expenses. That being said, if you´re a lover of the big cities, London isn´t the “be all and end all”. Other cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle all offer that vibrant, big-city feeling, and at a much lower cost. Thinking of and planning in advance your living allowances, such as for food and traveling, will give you an idea of what is and isn´t feasible, and will also help you avoid being caught short halfway through your trip. This leads us nicely onto point number 3…
3. Finding somewhere to live before you go
The biggest cost when abroad will be your accommodation. Thus while it is important that you find somewhere affordable, it is absolutely essential that it is somewhere where you will feel comfortable and at home at. This can take time to find. Often many people make the mistake of arriving in a country without having arranged their accommodation, and end up accepting somewhere out of desperation. Many teaching institutions, including the one mentioned above, can help you find somewhere to live. A lot of the time this includes being paired with a host family. We would recommend this option for a number of reasons. Not only will it save you money, but it provides the perfect opportunity for you to practice your English outside of the classroom. And if this will be your first time living away from the family home, it will allow you to enjoy comforts such as home-cooked meals. Either way, make sure you have something in place before you leave.
4. England has a lot of regional accents & dialects, innit?
If you ask most people from outside of the UK what they believe to be is the typical English accent, you will most likely be met with something straight out of a Jane Austen adaptation. Unfortunately, perhaps, for those embarking on a journey to ‘Old Blighty’ in search of linguistic perfection, such clarity is not to be found in all English accents (listen to an Adele interview and you´ll see what we mean). Shaped by thousands of years of history, the variation in English regional dialects can be found nowhere else in the world, especially in such a small country. We would advise having a listen to these various dialects before you settle on your chosen city or region (a quick search on Google will bring up hundreds of sound clips). It may only seem like a trivial point now, but if you have trouble understanding the local dialect and accent, then this could seriously hinder your progress with the language.
5. Getting involved in extracurricular activities
The classroom is where you´ll learn the basics; the rules of the language. It´s where your foundation in the language is laid. However, it is outside the classroom where you´ll build upon this. Like anything else, the more you put in the more you´ll get out of it. When choosing a school, have a look at the extracurricular program they lay on. A good school will have an extensive program, as this is the most effective way of integrating its students and making them feel welcome. You also don´t want to go somewhere where you feel you might get bored after a while. We´d advise sticking to the major cities, where there´s always something happening, something for you to do and people in the same boat for you to meet. Lest we forget, England is a small country and so can be explored easily and relatively cheaply.
6. Keep in mind social habits and local customs
While the Spanish usually greet each other with a kiss on each cheek, a firm handshake is very much the protocol in England. We wouldn´t say this step is essential, as often it can be quite fun(ny) to learn about local customs at first hand experience. However, if you´re the type of person who would rather avoid such awkward situations, have a quick read through the ´dos and the don’ts´ while in England. The English are traditionally very polite and expect it in return, so having knowledge of local social norms will certainly be noticed and appreciated.