English courses in Ireland

With a passion for the written and spoken word, Ireland has found itself a favourite destination amongst those looking to improve their English language skills

Duke of York Pub, Belfast
Duke of York Pub, Belfast

Ireland has a long tradition of excellence in education at all levels, so the development of an international reputation for quality education was a natural progression. Regardless of your age and ability, the genuine warmth of the Irish people means that you don't have to be shy about speaking, so here’s what you need to know if you fancy studying English on the island of Ireland.

Duke of York Pub, Belfast
Duke of York Pub, Belfast

Choosing the English language course to suit you

English and activities:

Students can customise their course by choosing their specialist sport or activities to combine with English classes. Generally, the day is divided up into a routine of classes in the morning, and sports, excursions and activities in the afternoons. Some activity courses even provide leagues for students to compete in their chosen sports.

Irish culture has a global reputation for its excellence, and students can avail of a number of culturally orientated classes such as traditional Irish music classes, Irish literature, culture and history classes. Group tours are organised to visit some of the best-known landmarks, must-sees and cities in Ireland, giving students the best opportunity to explore everything that the island has to offer.

English for adolescents:

During the summer months, courses are specifically designed to bring the language to life, with opportunities to develop students’ English language and social skills through interaction with their peers. English language courses take place over a number of weeks, depending on the course in question. A summer package course will typically offer a combination of high quality language courses mixed with cultural and sporting activities.

Students can stay with carefully selected host families or can opt for campus-style residences. Host families give students the "total-immersion" experience by constantly speaking English to them – a vital element on the road to fluency. Courses tend to be all-inclusive and students arrive as part of groups or individually.

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English for au pairs:

On arrival to Ireland, most au pairs will attend English classes, as well as carry out duties in their new family home. An au pair is a temporary member of their carefully chosen Irish family and is warmly welcomed into the home and taught about Irish culture in a very unique way. It’s a great way to experience the island culture and the English language from the inside out.

In exchange for full board and room plus pocket money the au pair will help with the children and with regular light housework.

English for families:

You and your entire family can study English together thanks to a new twist on the traditional language learning experience here in Ireland. Language schools are now offering parents a semi-intensive course or a summer course, while their children learn English at the same time but in a slightly more fun-based environment. Teachers who are qualified and experienced in children’s education will be instructing both the adults and children.

English for internships:

Changing to face the increased demands of professional students, some English language colleges provide valuable internship courses. These provide an excellent chance for students to improve on their English language skills while completing an internship in a chosen preferred industry. Most internship students will be over 18 years of age. Usually students will take English classes for up to four weeks minimum, depending on their levels of English, and then commence an internship/work placement in their chosen field.

School Groups:

Closed school groups (aged between 12 and 17 years) come to Ireland for at least two weeks. A minimum of 10 students are treated to a fantastic array of sporting and cultural activities, organised by the group coordinator at the college. Students are placed in residence together or with host families, and the schools are generally very accessible. Living with an Irish family offers great insight into Irish culture and full immersion into English.

English and Academic Year:

Selected language schools offer preparation courses, high school (also known as secondary school) placement services and a full follow-up high school guardianship service, which gives support to students throughout their time in Ireland and ensures that their experience here is both beneficial and enjoyable. Many students choose to come to Ireland for just one term (usually the autumn term from the end of August until Christmas), while others stay for the full academic year (from the end of August until the end of May).

A select number of students even go on to graduate by taking the Irish Leaving Certificate examination. From this, it’s possible to move into third-level Irish university programmes in top universities such as Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, Queen’s University Belfast and University College Cork.

All the schools participating in the academic year are recognised by the Irish Department of Education and follow the junior and senior cycle courses. All programme participants must arrive in time to commence school in the last week in August.

English for Seniors:

English language schools in Ireland offer mature students rewarding language course opportunities that take things beyond the classroom. Many colleges run a two-week "50+" course to allow mature students to improve on their knowledge of the English language. The courses combine language practice with opportunities to explore Ireland’s fascinating cultural heritage.

English for Teacher Training:

There are courses for teachers at different levels of the English teaching profession. They provide students support in the most up-to-date theories in the field of English language teaching and the skills to progress in their careers as high quality, professional teachers.

To qualify for the "teaching as profession courses," students must have the entry level qualification; CELT (the Certificate in English Language Teaching). This is a comprehensive introductory course, which qualifies people to teach English internationally and in the accredited schools in Ireland. Anyone planning to take up a post in a non-English speaking area is recommended to take this qualification before leaving home.

Examination Preparation Courses

Language schools in Ireland offer a vast selection of exam preparation courses. They will analyse and practice the language skills and examination techniques required to exceed in the exams. Individual feedback on written and spoken performance will be provided focusing on the use of vocabulary, range and accuracy of grammar and pronunciation skills.

Types of exams include:

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS), which is designed to examine a student’s ability to work, study, or live in an English speaking environment. IELTS is used frequently to determine a student's ability to study in an English speaking university, or to work and live in an English-speaking environment.

The Cambridge First Certificate in English (FCE) is an upper intermediate level exam, which recognises the ability to deal confidently with a range of written and spoken communications. FCE is designed for learners, whose command of English is adequate for many practical everyday purposes, including business and study.

The Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) is an advanced exam. It recognises the ability to communicate confidently in English and deal with most aspects of everyday life. CAE is for learners who are reaching a standard of English that is adequate for most purposes, including business and study.

General English for Adults:

These courses are the most popular for adults studying English in Ireland, and these are held year-round. Generally, adult students attend around 15-20 hours tuition every week in classes of up to 15 students. Standard General English courses are "all-round" courses, specifically tailored to encourage students to join in, grow in confidence and develop their knowledge of good, practical English. General English can be offered at different levels from beginners to advanced depending on the student’s abilities.

Business English:

Company executives looking to expand their knowledge of the English language with a focus on business communication can access courses that cater for their specialised needs. Courses are packaged as small groups or on a one-to-one basis.

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