Language schools

Where to learn English in Ireland

Language schools

Proficiency in the English language is of course essential if you’re going to enjoy your stay in Ireland, however short or long, and make it beneficial.

Fluency in English is also a prerequisite for most jobs and educational courses. Note that it’s usually necessary to have a recognised qualification in English to be accepted at a college of higher or further education in Ireland.

Most people can learn a great deal through the use of language teaching books, tapes, CDs and videos. However, even the best students require some help. Teaching English is a thriving business in Ireland, with classes offered by language schools, colleges and universities, private and international schools, foreign and international organisations, local associations and clubs, and private teachers.

Tuition ranges from language courses for complete beginners through specialised business or cultural courses to university-level courses leading to recognised diplomas (there are even courses which combine English lessons with studies in holistic therapy or with golf lessons!).

A variety of classes and courses are offered by language schools to suit your current ability, the number of hours you wish to study each week, the amount of money you have to spend and the speed at which you want to learn. Full-time, part-time and evening courses are offered by most schools, and many also offer residential courses.

Around 80 per cent of students choose ‘homestay’ courses, which involve staying with an Irish family, which is a good way of accelerating learning. Bear in mind that if you need to find your own accommodation, particularly in Dublin, it can be difficult and expensive.

Language classes generally fall into the following categories:


No. Of Hours Per Week


10 to 20


20 to 30

Total immersion

30 to 40+

The most popular courses are general courses, which usually involve classes between 9am and 1pm. Intensive courses generally include afternoon classes, either in English or in aspects of Irish culture. Most schools offer general and intensive courses, as well as providing special courses for businessmen and professionals (among others).

Courses may lead to examinations, most of which are recognised internationally. Course fees are usually calculated on a weekly basis and vary considerably depending on the number of hours’ tuition per week, the type of course, and the location and reputation of the school. Many schools offer discounts (e.g. 15–25 per cent) at certain times of year.

Total immersion courses are provided by some schools and are generally aimed at business people, though some also offer courses for young people in the summer. Inlingua Dublin (Tel. 01-272 0245) specialises in total immersion courses, which involve speaking English from 8am until 9pm every day! Not everyone is suited to learning at such a fast rate (or has the financial resources!).

Whatever language you’re learning, don’t expect to become fluent in a short period unless you have a particular flair for languages. Unless you desperately need to learn a language quickly, it’s better to spread your lessons over a long period. Don’t commit yourself to a long course of study (particularly an expensive one) before ensuring that it’s the correct one.

It’s important to choose the right course, particularly if you’re studying English in order to continue with full-time education in Ireland and need to reach a minimum standard or gain a particular qualification. Some schools offer a free introductory lesson and a free test to gauge your ability. If you already speak English but need conversational practice, you may prefer to enrol in a course at a local institute or club.

For information about language schools in Ireland, visit an Irish embassy or tourist office or contact MEI-RELSA, who publish a brochure, entitled Ireland, the Quality Location for Learning English, giving details of all schools recognised by the Irish Department of Education and Science (Tel. 01-475 3122; ).

Further reading

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