Language schools

Where to learn English in New Zealand

Language schools

Obtaining a working knowledge of or becoming fluent in English while living in New Zealand is relatively easy, as you will be constantly immersed in the English language and will have the maximum opportunity to practise.

However, if you wish to speak or write English fluently, you'll probably need to attend a language school or find a private tutor. It’s usually necessary to have a recognised qualification in English to be accepted at a college of higher or further education in New Zealand. If you wish to learn another language you can enrol in a language course at one of the many language schools in New Zealand. Many languages are spoken in New Zealand, so there’s plenty of opportunity to learn and practise foreign languages with immigrants.

English-language courses at all levels are offered by the Correspondence School and other distance learning organisations, foreign and international organisations, language schools, local associations and clubs, private colleges, private teachers and universities.

New migrants can enrol at special ‘ migrant education colleges’ through a programme run by Skill New Zealand. Classes range from language courses for complete beginners to special business or cultural courses and university-level seminars leading to recognised diplomas. There are language schools in cities and large towns in New Zealand, many equipped with bookshops, computers, language laboratories, libraries and video studios.

Most language schools offer a variety of classes depending on your current knowledge, how many hours you wish to study per week, how much money you want to spend and how quickly you wish to learn. Full-time, part-time and evening courses are offered by most schools, and many also offer residential courses or accommodation with local families (highly recommended to accelerate learning).

Courses that include accommodation (often half board, consisting of breakfast and an evening meal) are usually good value. Bear in mind that if you need to find your own accommodation, particularly in Wellington or Auckland, 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+

Most schools offer compact or intensive courses and also provide special courses for businessmen and professionals (among others), and a wide variety of examinations, most of which are recognised internationally.

Course fees vary considerably and are usually calculated on a weekly basis. Fees depend on the number of hours’ tuition per week, the type of course, and the location and reputation of the school. Expect to pay up to $600 per week for an intensive course and around $350 per week for a compact course.

Total immersion or executive courses are provided by some schools and usually consist of private lessons. Fees can run to $2,000 or more per week and not everyone is suited to learning at such a fast rate (or has the financial resources). Whatever language you’re learning, you shouldn't expect to become fluent in a short period unless you have a particular flair for languages or already have a good command of a language.

Unless you desperately need to learn a language quickly, it’s better to arrange 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. Most schools offer a free introductory lesson and free tests to help you find your appropriate level. Many language schools offer private and small group lessons. It’s important to choose the right course, particularly if you’re studying English in order to continue with full-time education in New Zealand and need to reach a minimum standard or gain a particular qualification.

Further reading

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