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The 10 best places to learn English in the UK

The UK is a consistently popular destination when it comes to learning English. With a wide variety of landscapes, people, cultures and accents within a relatively small area, you get a lot for your money when you book an English course in the UK.

With so much on offer, it can be hard to know which is the right location for you. With this in mind we’re bringing you our 10 best places to learn English in the UK, to help you compare, choose and plan your trip. These are also the locations where you will find the best IELTS exam preparation and business English courses, which you will see links to below.

1. London

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An English course in London or an IELTS exam course in London is an experience you will never forget. England’s vibrant, historic and multi-cultural capital has so much to offer students of all nationalities that it is unsurprisingly our most popular location to learn English in the UK. The large number of schools in London means that there is a course for everyone, no matter your age, level or budget, and the activities on offer outside class are infinite, ranging from cultural and sporting to entertainment, shopping, nightlife and more. Your London English course is the perfect way to experience one of the world’s most exciting cities. And for those wanting to take the reputable IELTS test, we offer a choice of long, short and part-time IELTS preparation courses in London.

English course London

IELTS exam preparation course London

Business courses in London for executives and professionals

2. Brighton

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“London by the sea” is what they call Brighton, and if you take an English course in Brighton or an IELTS exam course in Brighton you will certainly be getting the best of both worlds. Buzzing city life accompanied by fresh air and great views – the sea in one direction and the picturesque hills of the Downs in the other – is a unique and enviable combination. On top of this you can expect a laid-back atmosphere, an emphasis on an outdoors, sporty lifestyle and top notch arts and cultural events. Come to learn English or take your IELTS preparation course in Brighton and you’ll realise that it’s a city unlike any other, and one that year after year attracts British and foreign students for courses and holidays.

English courses Brighton

IELTS exam preparation courses Brighton

Business courses in Brighton for executives and professionals

3. Oxford

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Oxford has earned itself a reputation as an academic centre of excellence, as much for students attending its prestigious university as for foreign students wanting to learn English or take an IELTS exam course at one of its many language schools. Wherever you come from you will have doubtless seen images of the city’s historic architecture, rising spires and attractive cobbled streets, and in real life it is every bit as beautiful. Take an English course in Oxford or an IELTS preparation course in Oxford and you can proudly be part of the city’s flourishing student life, with plenty of opportunity to practise your English outside class, be it to rent a bike or have a pint in one of the city’s traditional pubs.

English course Oxford

IELTS exam preparation course Oxford

English mini-group executive course Oxford

4. Manchester

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One of our most popular UK cities, Manchester offers a good dose of British northern life mixed with first-class entertainment facilities, abundant sporting opportunities, excellent shopping and no end of places to eat and socialise. As a place to learn English, it is modern and exciting, with a rich historical and cultural heritage. Take your English course in Manchester and you will quickly get caught up in all that there is to do, yet should you ever want a slower pace of life, the scenic Pennine Hills are just on the doorstep waiting to be explored.

English course Manchester

Business English course Manchester

5. Cardiff

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Here’s a little secret: if you are looking for a place to learn English that is a little different, a place of stunning river valleys, pristine sandy beaches, rugged landscapes dotted with castles and supremely warm, friendly people, you must come to Wales. This small but magical country will steal a little piece of your heart before you know it. Take your English course in Cardiff and you can enjoy all that a thriving capital city offers, with the stunning Welsh countryside easily explored on weekends with friends that you make in class. The Welsh accent is often described as melodious, with a distinctive musical intonation – and although English is spoken everywhere, you may even find you pick up a few words of Welsh!

English course Cardiff

6. Cambridge

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Cambridge is famous the world over for its prestigious university, unique traditions and active student life, meaning you are just as likely to see a student with his or her nose in a book as you are punting down the river beneath bridges and willow trees. For a place so well known, Cambridge is surprisingly modest in size, making it easy to get around and lending a friendly, intimate feel to the city – ideal for practising your English with the locals. As well as learning English, taking your English course in Cambridge will give you a great insight into the British culture and, with its central location, easy access to the rest of the UK.

English course Cambridge

7. Liverpool

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It’s not just the innovative language school in the heart of the city that attracts students to learn English in Liverpool – although this could be reason enough if school and course are paramount to you. With contemporary learning facilities, quality teaching and outstanding value for money, you are in excellent hands if you take your English course in Liverpool. And this is without even mentioning all that Liverpool has to offer. Whether you’re after music, culture, legend or sport, you can’t help but be swept up in Beatles mania, football frenzy and cultural utopia, making this lively northern city an unforgettable place to learn English.

English course Liverpool

8.  Bristol

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Located in England’s picturesque south-west, Bristol is a wonderful – but often overlooked – location for students wanting to learn English. Known as the cultural centre of the West of England, it has struck the perfect balance between a buzzing student life, attractive surroundings (leafy Georgian streets, meandering waterways and a thriving waterfront) and a fantastic nightlife. As a student taking an English course in Bristol, you can expect to be treated as an individual at the supportive, family-run English language school, but not have to vie with hoards of foreign visitors as you might in other UK locations.

English course Bristol

9. Bath

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With picture-postcard views everywhere you turn, you can’t help but fall in love with Bath, a beautiful city in England’s south-west. Perfect sand-coloured rows of Georgian houses, wide tree-lined crescents and quaint boutiques line the cobbled streets and the sparkling River Avon winds gently through the centre. It has an upmarket, wealthy feel, but the large number of students at its university add a young and lively element. If you take an English course in Bath you will inevitably visit the famous Roman Baths, but there’s plenty more to do here and you’ll soon discover why it’s such a popular place to learn English.

English course Bath

10. Edinburgh

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Scotland has a distinct identity that shines through in its history, culture, traditions and accent, all of which combine to offer the most fascinating language learning experience. Take your English course in Edinburgh and you’ll soon see that it’s best discovered on foot, with attractive Georgian streets, impressive statues and countless cafes leading you to famous landmarks such as Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street and The Royal Mile. Time your trip in the summer to catch the dazzling Edinburgh Festival or join in the unmissable Hogmanay celebrations at new year. Whatever you do, life north of the border certainly won’t disappoint.

English course Edinburgh

Cactus offers a variety of English courses across the UK and in other countries worldwide. Courses include General English, Business English, Academic Year programmes, exam preparation courses and Under 18s summer camps.

What is the difference between CELTA and TESOL?

The Cambridge CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL are the two key qualifications recognised by the British Council and reputable English language schools worldwide.

They are the most prestigious English language teaching qualifications you can obtain, and will enable you to teach English almost anywhere in the world you choose.

In reality, there is little to differentiate the CELTA from the CertTESOL. Both courses can be done over 4 or 5 weeks full-time, or 12-20 weeks part-time, and the overall aim is for you to become a confident, competent teacher of English.

CELTA Trinity CertTESOL
Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Min 120 hours over min 4 weeks Min 130 hours over min 4 weeks
Min 6 hours’ teaching practice Min 6 hours’ teaching practice
Accredited by the Cambridge University examining board Accredited by Trinity College London
Includes a component that teaches you a new language

Teaching practice is a very important component, as this takes place in front of your peers and/or real students, and gives you a real feel for what it’s like to stand up at the front of a classroom and deliver a class.  Whilst 6 hours is little time to actually spend teaching, the preparation involved in planning the lessons, as well as time spent watching your peers in action, ensures that you firmly grasp the process of lesson planning and gain the confidence and ability to teach in real life.

Your CELTA or CertTESOL will also work on your language (grammar) awareness. If you would like to brush up your English grammar and gain confidence in the language you are teaching, the Cactus online English Language Awareness has been specifically created to prepare teachers with the grammar they need to teach English. Normal price £95 / reduced price £50 when you book your 4-week course with Cactus TEFL.

Unless you are already set on a particular course, your decision as to CELTA versus TESOL may well boil down to factors such as location and price. For advice on these and other English Language Teaching qualifications, visit Cactus TEFL or call 0845 130 4775 to discuss the options available to you.

Cactus TEFL is an admissions and advice service for quality teacher training courses worldwide. We work with the majority of well-known course providers to offer CELTA, Trinity CertTESOL, equivalent and online courses in over 90 locations across 36 countries. You will receive free, impartial advice every step of the way, and you can trust us to help you choose the right English language teaching course for you.

Junior Holiday Camps in the UK

Any parent with children of school age will be familiar with the task of keeping them entertained during the school holidays, no more so than during the long summer break. To find something social, active and educational is ideal – and that is exactly what a junior language holiday, or camp, in the UK offers.

Taking place during the summer holidays, a junior language holiday gives under 18s:

• A unique opportunity to learn English where it is spoken

• The chance to mix with others of the same age in a safe, fun & international environment

• Quality English language tuition in small group classes – leading to a natural increase in fluency & confidence

• A varied & exciting activities programme – the perfect way to try new skills & make new friends

• Safe & comfortable accommodation – with local host families or in residences

• Full in-country support & on-site supervision – meaning that youngsters feel secure & parents can rest assured their children are in good hands

• Motivation on returning home to keep up the language they have learnt and achieve better grades – whether at school or applying for a British university.

UK Locations

The UK is a popular destination for a junior English holiday as it offers a fascinating variety of cultures, landscapes and traditions. With this in mind, Cactus offers a range of programmes in both England and Scotland to suit different tastes and budgets, for children aged 8 -18 years.

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London Camps

• Camden

• Kingston

• Regents Park

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Seaside Camps

• Brighton

• Southampton

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University City Camps

• Cambridge

• Oxford

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Real England Camps

• Cheltenham

• Nottingham

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Scottish Camps:

• Edinburgh

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Football Camps:

• Manchester

• Liverpool

Special English & Football Courses

Worth a special mention, Cactus’ English and Football courses in Manchester (15–18 years) and Liverpool (12-17 years) are a must for any sports-mad teen. An absolutely brilliant way for your child to combine his or her love of football with an English language holiday, these football summer camps offer young sports enthusiasts the chance to improve their English whilst receiving FA qualified football coaching in partnership with two of the country’s premier clubs – Manchester City or Liverpool FC. A sure-fire recipe for success both in the classroom and on the football field!

Safety & Welfare of Students

Most parents sending their children away will have understandable concerns about their safety and welfare. However all junior programmes are fully supervised to ensure not just the security of the youngsters but also their general wellbeing whilst they are away from home. All programmes offer excellent staff/student ratios, emergency contact numbers for students and parents, and on-site medical support. On top of this, supervisors and staff are friendly and approachable, with many years’ experience in dealing with younger students; they maintain a close eye on students at all times and provide support should a student be missing home or have any concerns. All of this ensures that students derive maximum benefit and enjoyment from their stay.

Support from Cactus

Having visited and vetted all the locations and schools that we work with, parents who are unsure where best to send their children can call to discuss their wishes with one of our multi-lingual advisors, and at the same time benefit from in-house academic support. Knowing that you can always call about any aspect of your child’s trip and speak to an experienced member of staff is a valuable benefit – especially when for many this might be their first time away from home alone.

Whichever junior language holiday you choose, you can be sure that your child will do much more than just sit in a classroom learning verbs. Every summer camp offers something different, but they all have these key benefits in common: they offer your child the unique chance to improve their English in a safe and friendly environment, try their hand at fun new skills, socialise with others of their age from all over the world and, most importantly, come back refreshed and confident in the language. A summer holiday well spent, for sure.

Please refer to our website for a full list of English junior holidays, prices and further information.

Cactus specialises in organising language courses for individuals and groups, having done so since 1999 for clients all over the globe and for diverse needs and budgets. Our expertise in the field of face-to-face tuition is second-to-none. With an extensive network of approved teachers and a strong in-house academic team, we are able to tailor a language course to suit your specific learning needs, anywhere in the world and whenever is convenient to you.

We offer language courses for Under 18s in many languages and locations across the world.