The UK's capital is considered a global city, ranked among the top in the world for its economic status alone.

Besides that remarkable statistic, London is the largest city in the European Union – at least, until Brexit uncouples us from Europe, and a world leader in higher education.

In fact, with the number of higher education institutions in this city, it boasts the largest grouping of academic institutions in Europe.

Could you imagine that every international student must dream of earning a place in any of those fine schools?

In global rankings, London is a city of ‘mosts’: most powerful, desirable, influential, innovative, sustainable, vegetarian-friendly, investment-friendly... and on the negative side: most, expensive and most populated.

Now, imagine someone from an impoverished country, arriving in London – possibly through the busiest airport in the world.

The people, the noise, the sights...

The sheer crush of cultures and languages - more than 300 spoken in this city; the history and the very British way of doing things: might such a person not feel overwhelmed?

How do immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers find their way around without so much as knowing how to speak English – let alone understanding our culture?

That is what your Superprof now investigates.

Together, let’s discover the best ESL classes, the best chance for international students to study abroad in any of our fabled universities and colleges, and what level of English language skills people are required to possess in order to find work in our most cosmopolitan city.

Yes, London chalks up another ‘most’!

Find English courses in London with a qualified tutor.

ESOL Classes to Live in London

Travelling to London is the easy part; finding work and learning English takes a lot of work
Arriving in London is only half the battle; you must also find work and prove your English skills Image by Capri23auto from Pixabay

To live anywhere, one must have a way to earn money and, strangely enough, be recognised as eligible for residence – either through citizenship or legal residence permission.

Every city and town in the UK, London included, is no different. In order to gain permission to live and work in London, two conditions must be met:

  1. you must file official paperwork for residency and/or apply for citizenship, and
  2. you must demonstrate that you have attained a certain level of English proficiency.

Those whose personal situation allows them to plan their move to London may well have already mastered a level of English.

Perhaps they have already earned an acceptable band score on the IELTS exam that measures English language learners’ depth of knowledge; an exam whose results are globally accepted.

Sitting IELTS is the best way to prove your language skills; in fact, most jobs will ask for your IELTS score before they hire you.

International students must also present satisfactory marks on that exam before they can be accepted for enrolment in London universities.

Are the language requirements the same for universities in Manchester?

The people who seek asylum on our shores are in a different league than international students.

It is quite possible that refugees had a bit of exposure to English in the course of their regular education but there is no doubt that their English skills are lacking, as evidenced by the number of charities that teach English as a second language.

English for Action, or EFA is a charity dedicated to providing migrants to the UK with the language skills to needed to compete in a fair society.

To build ESOL learning communities with the capacity to effect positive change beyond the classroom.- EFA mission statement

Rather than hosting classes themselves, EFA works with a number of migrant support groups, faith organisations and trade unions throughout the city, scheduling classes according to need.

Right now, they are teaching English courses in Southward, Greenwich, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets and Hackney.

To take part in such a class, you should contact your local migrant support agency. If you don’t know where to find it, you can search the Internet for ‘ESOL’ and the part of London you live in; Whitechapel or Mayfair, for example.

Or, if you prefer, you can call Migrants Organise at 0208 968 1692.

Join the discussion: are migrant services and ESOL courses in Leeds sufficient to address everyone who arrives there?

You could ask someone at your migrant centre to help you find ESOL courses
You can use the Internet to find ESOL courses close to you Image by Quinn Kampschroer from Pixabay

Other Free ESOL Courses in London

First, a bit of history...

Until 2007, if you wanted to improve your English in London or elsewhere in the country, you could find free language instruction almost everywhere. In August of that year, the rules changed.

Since then, the Education and Skills Funding Agency only covers the cost of English language courses for people over the age of 19 who are unemployed and hold Skills Funding Agency certification.

To take adult education courses in English as a foreign language, people had to pay money; money that those seeking refuge often did not have.

That is why charitable organisations across the UK lead the way in giving free English lessons.

The British Council made up for their restricting funding for teaching English by setting up online English lessons but, without any guidance – anybody to explain English grammar or gauge speaking skills, many struggled to gain fluency.

The big news is that, as of next year, all ESOL courses in London will be free again, so that new arrivals will be able to integrate faster and enjoy life in London.

Until then, perhaps some of the courses on this webpage or listed in this table will help you develop your communication skills.

Facility namePhysical addressWeb addressPhone number
The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East LondonHigh Road
N15 4RU 8442 3055
Tower Hamlets CollegeArbour Square, E1 0PT, 7510 7510
Caetop College LondonOlympic House 28-42 Clements Road Ilford, IG1 584 3990
Train 2 Work Academy85 St. Ann’s Road, London, N15 3981 1990
South Thames CollegeThree campuses: Wadsworth, Tooting and 8918 7777

And, if you need more help, perhaps you might be interested in working with an English tutor to build your language proficiency.

You can also find free English language courses in Edinburgh!

Tutors: the Ultimate ESOL Teacher

  • One of the biggest ‘holes’ in any ESOL programme surely has to be the lack of adequate support and language classes for children of refugees.
  • Another aspect of the refugee experience, post-traumatic stress, may compel even adult language learners to stay away from English classes.
  • Finally, for cultural reasons: it is quite possible that not all members of the migrant and refugee population engage in society to any degree – let alone sit in a classroom with members of the opposite sex.

While some ESOL schools are mindful of these distinctions by offering women-only English classes and promoting an inclusive, safe environment, there is no ESOL course that currently addresses all these of these exceptional conditions.

Private tutors, on the other hand, excel at teaching individuals in the comfort (and security) of their home; most even have provisions for teaching in small groups.

Also find the best tutors for ESOL learning in Birmingham...

Many tutors have taught English in other countries
Many ESOL tutors have experience teaching English as a foreign language in other countries Image by AkshayaPatra Foundation from Pixabay

And some tutors have developed lesson plans for teaching young learners their native language!

If you live northeast of London, you might take lessons with Larissa Brown.

She has more than 30 years of experience teaching English learners; at university as well as privately. She emphasises using the language as a way to learn grammar and helps build English vocabulary through a host of learning activities.

As she is an English teacher who understands what speakers of other languages need to thrive in their new life, she also teaches an IELTS prep course – to better ready her students for their language certification exam.

Find out where, throughout the UK, people can find IELTS preparation courses.

You might think that private lessons would be very expensive but, at £25 per hour for one student, you would have a hard time finding a better price at an English language school... and you would not receive personal instruction.

Ms Larissa teaches children and adults, and if you brought three family members to take lessons with you, your cost would be only £45 per hour.

You can talk with her about scheduling lessons by calling: 0170 845 7698

There is just one catch to taking lessons with Ms Larissa: you must go to her; she will not come to you.

On the other hand, a Superprof tutor would come to your home. S/he would teach you English online if that is what would make you more comfortable.

Or, you might ask your Superprof tutor if s/he might possibly help you learn English online but practise English pronunciation in person.

Many Superprof tutors have gained experience teaching conversational English in other countries, meaning that they have both the certifications and cultural knowledge needed to guide you in your English language development.

Of course, it is difficult to know who would be a good teacher for you. That is why most Supeprof tutors will give you your first English lessons for free.

Are there any Superprof tutors giving ESOL lessons in Belfast?

This is a way for you to meet with your tutor, to find out s/he will help you improve your English skills and if you think you could learn English quickly and well with them.

Another way to discover if you are looking at a good tutor is to read what other ESL students say about him/her.

On every Superprof profile page, there is room for you to see what that tutor’s experience is in teaching English and how many years s/he has been teaching; you can also read testimonials – whether other students liked that tutor.

If you are preparing for your General IELTS or IELTS Academic exam, your Superprof tutor can also help you with exam preparation.

If you are an international student already enroled in one of London’s many colleges, a Superprof tutor can help you develop your listening skills and improve your academic writing.

Again, you might be surprised at how affordable a Superprof private tutor is: the average cost for one hour is around £25 – although some charge more and quite a few charge less than that.

Did you know that most ESOL tutors in Cardiff charge less for their per hour lessons? You could take English lessons online with a Cardiff tutor and save money!

From all of this we can honestly say that, between migrant and refugee services, English language schools, ESOL courses run by charities and lessons with private tutors, you have a lot of choices when it comes to learning English as a second language in London.

Glasgow is another popular city for international students and immigrants; discover where you can take ESOL courses in that city.

Need a ESOL (English) teacher?

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A vagabond traveler whose first love is the written word, I advocate for continuous learning, cycling, and the joy only a beloved pet can bring. There is plenty else I am passionate about, but those three should do it, for now.