Learn English for Free in London
By Kelly Henderson (follow Kelly on Twitter @kellythekiwi)
Arriving in London with only a small understanding of the language can be a scary prospect. But, you don’t need to pay a lot (or anything at all) to turn those basics into real conversation. There are a number options available to you from learning in a classroom environment to getting out and meeting people or studying on a mobile application. Here are 5 ways to learn English for free in London.
#1 How to enrol in a free English course
There are a number of schools/colleges in London where you can learn English for free in a classroom environment. The free* classes are run by trainee teachers and are offered to students of various English levels.
If you are interested in one of these courses then have a look at Oxford International and Experience English in Hampstead as well as at Training 4TEFL in Central London. The classes are VERY popular and all of the sites warn that you must not phone or just turn up at the school – you need to email the contact person and make sure to do it in advance. Both the free English courses run by Training4TEFL and Experience English charge a very small administration fee (£10-£15). You will also need to pay a £30 deposit for the Training4TEFL course but this is refunded if you attend at least 75% of the classes – now that’s an incentive to show up!
#2 Get a head start online or mobile
If you cannot make it to one of these courses then you can always download an application for your smartphone or take a course online. Lingualia, Memrise and Duolingo are free online communities where you can learn the language, practice your vocabulary and then exchange your language with people from all over the world. All of them have really great apps that you can download (for iPhone and Android phones) so you can learn English for free even when you’re on the move!
#3 Register with the British Council LearnEnglish website
The LearnEnglish website is a really great source if you want to learn English for free. The website is really easy to use – each page will have a bit of text, a video or some audio for you to read/listen/watch first. At the bottom of the page will be a series of tasks testing your understanding of the language that you have just read/heard. They advise you to take their free test to make sure you are learning at the right level – while you don’t want to find things to difficult, you do want to be challenged.
If you need a bit of a break from the hard study then there are a number of games to make things more entertaining. These can be used to improve your vocabulary, spelling and grammar. And if you want to learn on the go there are also a load of apps that are worth filling your phone with. Sounds Right will help you improve your pronunciation, there’s an English learning podcast for those who like to listen and learn and you can test yourself with Johnny Grammar’s Word Challenge.
#4 Find a language exchange partner or join a group
If you prefer a more one-on-one style of learning then have a look at the Skills & Language Swap section on Gumtree or Conversation Exchange to find a tandem partner who wants to swap their English language for your native language. You should also have a look at the Meetup London site – you can find large groups of people meeting together for dinner, drinks or coffee in order to exchange language skills. These exchanges are not only good for transforming your basic knowledge of English into real life conversations, but also a great way to meet new people in the city! If you’re not sure which Meetup Group to start with (there are a lot!) take a look at Mammoth and Babble – these are definitely two of the most popular. I would probably incorporate the Meetup group with one of the other methods of learning though – it would be hard to go along to one of these events without a basic understanding of English.
#5 Have a look at the University Bulletin Boards
A good way to find free English courses is to visit a University campus close to where you live and look at the bulletin boards for ads regarding tandem learning. There are plenty of native English-speaking students who are looking to find a tandem partner to exchange language lessons with. This can be a great way to learn how to speak and write English for free.
It doesn’t matter which type of learning you prefer – studying English can be both fun and inexpensive. Remember that it takes time to learn a new language and independent learning does require a huge amount of motivation. When I came to London I decided it would be fun to learn Spanish through one of the free online courses but I didn’t stick with it… and I still don’t speak Spanish! Choose the method that’s right for you, develop new language skills, meet new people and enjoy your time here in London.
#6 Find Discounted English Lessons in London
Another way to find highly discounted English courses is via Udemy or the famous voucher sites Wowcher and Groupon.
Useful Twitter links for you to check out:
Language Exchange: @LanguageExchLDN
Experience English: @ExpEnglishUK
Online Courses and Applications
Open Language: @openlanguage
British Council: @BritishCouncil
You may also want to check our post about Free Haircuts in London.