Learn English in London without leaving your own home

In my Travel Thursdays series, we’ve seen loads of exciting places to study English all over the world. What about if you don’t have enough time and money to travel to another country to learn English, though?

Studying English at home using the Internet is a really practical option nowadays. Some people even prefer it to a regular school because they find it fits in with their schedule better or because they prefer to study alone, at their own pace.

I’ve been living in Indonesia for the last five years but next week, I’m going home to London permanently. This means two things. Firstly, I’m going to have to get used to the famous (terrible) British weather again. Secondly, and more importantly, all my live classes will be coming directly from London.

Once I get back home, I’ll introduce more information about London and English culture to this blog and you can expect to see a lot more videos.

If you want to take live one-to-one English classes with me and find out more about what it’s like living in London, just send me an email and we can arrange a time for a free trial lesson. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Today’s image is by Aidas Zubkonis.

Study English and go cycling in Portland

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Portland is a city in the Northwestern United States. As cities in the US go, it’s not been that well-known in the past but recently Portland has become more and more famous as a ‘green’ environmentally-friendly city.

Portlanders love cycling and if you are interested in organic food and healthy living, it could be an ideal place for you to study English. It’s easy to rent a bike there and explore the local scenery. Commuting to school by bike is great for your health, too.

The cycling community in Portland is huge and there are many community run groups teaching people how to maintain their own bicycles. If you are interested in learning a new skill, this could be a really fun, practical thing to do after class.

There’s the usual selection of big-name English schools in Portland along with some good independent ones. There are also lots of interesting museums including the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and many modern art galleries, too.

Portland is also famous for drinking. If you like coffee, you’ll be able to get any variety you can imagine. If you like beer, you can have fun tasting the local beers from Portland’s microbreweries.

In summary, although Portland is not one of the most famous cities in the US, it has a lot to offer for English learners. Especially if you are interested in an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Study English in Bournemouth

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Have you ever heard of Bournemouth? It’s a seaside town in Southern England famous for ballroom dancing and as a place for elderly people to retire.

It’s also a great place to study English, though. Bournemouth is a short train or coach journey from London and easy to get to from both Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

Many of the larger language schools have branches in Bournemouth but there are also a lot of great independent schools. The town is very compact and so you won’t need to worry about commuting to school every day. Accommodation is relatively cheap, too, when compared to London.

When you’re not busy studying, you can relax on the 12km-long sandy beach or try surfing on Bournemouth’s artificial reef. The water is unpolluted and has even won awards for its cleanliness. Be aware, though, you will need a wetsuit if you want to stay in the water for a long time because it’s very cold.

Because the English-learning industry is so large in Bournemouth, it’s very easy to find a homestay and most host families are already used to looking after students from all over the world.

If you want to study in the UK and would like to stay in a safe place that’s easy to get around, Bournemouth would be ideal for you. Because so many English schools have branches there already, you may even be able to get a good deal on an exchange program with a school in your country, too.

Study English in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a beautiful city and certainly an inspirational place to study English. Although some learners find accents from certain parts of Scotland difficult to understand, the Edinburgh accent is very clear and the intonation is beautiful.

There is a very well-respected university in Edinburgh and lots of independent language schools to choose from. Of course, you’ll also be able to practise English in the shops bars, and restaurants, too.

The historic buildings in Edinburgh are well-preserved and the city is very compact. Walking is the best way to get around and there are some great walking tours where you can be shown around the city by an expert guide.

Although you can fly to Edinburgh, the most fun way to get there is by train from London. It’s a beautiful trip and takes about a day. If you want to admire the view, take a train during the day and if you want to save time, take the sleeper train and you’ll wake up in Edinburgh, ready to explore.

Edinburgh can be a little expensive but no more so than any of the other popular tourist destinations in the UK. If you intend to go during the summer, make sure you book your accommodation well in advance. There is a very famous festival in Edinburgh during the summer and, while it’s great fun to visit, it’s very crowded and might make it difficult for you to find anywhere to stay.

If you like golf, you’ll love Scotland. There are so many famous historic courses and having a chat while you play a round of golf is a fun way to practise your conversation skills. Of course, you can try some of the delicious local whiskey in the bar afterwards!

Today’s image is by Stuart Bell.

Study English in Boston

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Harvard is one of the most famous universities in the world. It’s not easy to study there, though. The academic standards are high and the fees are really expensive.

You don’t need to go to Harvard to enjoy studying English in Boston, though. There are loads of independent English language schools in Boston and many of the large chain schools such as EF have their headquarters there.

Boston is a great place if you are interested in history. There are lots of interesting historic buildings and great museums. Although there are no ancient buildings in Boston, there are well preserved historic buildings dating back to the early 1700s.

Because of the high student population, Boston has a thriving arts scene and it a great place to get involved with creative activities when you are not busy studying.

Boston is a very safe city with a low crime rate but it can be expensive with prices comparable to New York. If you can afford it, though, studying English in Boston could be an amazing experience.

Study English in Oxford

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People in the UK often refer to Oxford and Cambridge universities together as ‘Oxbridge’ because of the similarities in their reputations. The actual cities, though are quite different. There’s a lot of rivalry between the two universities, too. This is most obvious in sporting competitions such as the annual boat race and rugby match between the two universities.

We’ve already seen tips on studying English in Cambridge on the World of Words but what about studying English in Oxford?

You might have seen Oxford already in movies such as Harry Potter. It’s a very common location for filming because of its beautiful architecture. I’m sure you’ve read books published by Oxford University Press, too. They do some great guides and the Oxford English Dictionary is probably the most famous dictionary in the world.

Parking is very difficult in Oxford so it’s best to walk or cycle around the city. It’s easy to get there from London by train with fast trains leaving from Paddington station regularly. There is an airport in Oxford, too. It’s just for domestic flights, though, so you can’t fly there directly from overseas.

Although it’s possible to study English all year round in Oxford, many people like to attend a summer school. During the summer holidays, most Oxford students move out of the university accommodation and it is rented out to other people. This means that if you study in Oxford during the summer, you might even get a chance to stay in the historic university buildings.

When you’re not studying, you can explore the city. Oxford is quite a small place but with so many historic buildings and museums, there is a lot to see. You could even take a romantic trip on the river to get to know the local area better.

There are some good pubs, bars, and restaurants in Oxford, but mostly the nightlife is fairly quiet. If you like to party, Oxford might not be an ideal destination for you. If you are interested in history and English culture, or if you are a big Harry Potter fan, Oxford could be the perfect place for you to come and learn English.

Study English in Malaysia

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m on a trip to Malaysia at the moment. I speak a little Malay, enough to hold a simple conversation, but I’m always amazed at the level of English spoken there. In major cities in Malaysia, you will hear people speaking English fluently wherever you go.

It seems that the national school system teaches English really well and most students don’t need to take extra supplementary classes after school. Despite this, there are some great English language schools. The most famous are probably those run by the British Council, but there are lots of other options, too.

Malaysia is similar to Singapore in that English is widely-spoken in everyday life. This is what makes it it such a great place to learn English. Even after class is over, you can practise speaking in shops, restaurants or bars.

There’s loads to see and do in Malaysia. Beach-lovers will enjoy Langkawi. People interested in history can visit the beautiful port of Melaka. The famous Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur are not to be missed, too.

The thing I like most about Malaysia, though, is the food! Malaysian cooking is amazing. It’s diverse, with influences from the Chinese, Indian and Malay communities. It’s delicious (Malaysians pride themselves on their food culture). It’s cheap, too.

In general, living in Malaysia isn’t expensive. If you are in Kuala Lumpur, the subway is a good, cheap way to get around. Accommodation is not expensive either with budget hotels starting at about US$30 per night.

Flights to Malaysia, too. AirAsia, a budget airline based in Malaysia has some great deals for both short-haul and long-haul flights.

The only negative think I can think of about learning English in Malaysia is that the food might be too good! Be prepared to come home weighing more than when you left!

Today’s image is by Hoosablink.

Study English in Dublin

If you’re looking for somewhere in Europe to study English where the people are friendly and not as ‘cold’ as people in the UK, why not head to Ireland? Low-cost flights to Dublin from all over Europe have made it a popular holiday destination and it’s a great place to study English, too.

There are lots of great English schools in Dublin and summer courses are particularly popular there. People often say that it rains a lot in Ireland but the weather in summer is really beautiful.

To take your education to the next level, Trinity College, Dublin is a very highly-regarded university and many international students go there from all over the world.

Irish pubs are famous all over the world and they’re a great place to practise English. People tend to be more talkative and friendly in pubs in Ireland than over in the UK so going out for a drink there could be a great way to practise English and make some new friends.

One of the other interesting things about Ireland is that traditional culture is still very strong and there are many pubs where you can hear people playing traditional songs. Listening to these songs is a great way to put the language into a cultural context.

Dublin can be a very expensive city because it is so popular with tourists. If you are studying English there and want to save some money, you could try looking for a hostel or staying with a host family in a homestay scheme.

Remember, Dublin is in the Republic of Ireland, which is not part of the UK. You will need to pay for things in Euros when you get there. If you choose to take a trip to anywhere in Northern Ireland, (Belfast, for example) you will need to change some money into Pounds Sterling because Northern Ireland is part of the UK.

If you have any free time on your trip to Dublin you could visit Dublin Castle, Temple Bar, and Trinity College. One of the most famous things to see, though, is the Guinness Storehouse. It’s a museum dedicated to Guinness which shows the history of the drink and how it was exported all over the world. Visitors enter at the bottom of the museum and when they get to the top, they can have a free pint of Guinness in a bar with fantastic views right across the city.

If you’re a social person, keen to practise English by talking to as many people as possible, Dublin could be the ideal city for you! Although the cost of living there can be high, cheap flights to Dublin from all over Europe make it a very attractive destination for English learners.

Today’s image is by Sarah Mooney.