Choosing a Language Holiday in the UK
Great, you have decided to take an English language holiday in the UK.
Now, you have some further choices to make, including whether you want to be in a city, town or countryside.
Considering this question will help you refine your language school search.
Are you drawn to one particular city or region for a reason?
If it is your dream to explore it – then go!
But as you will see in this blog, there is some misinformation about which place is ‘best’ for language learning.
Of course, there are other important things to consider too (like class size, accommodation, and price), but this blog is dedicated to discovering what kind of surrounding environment suits you best.
The surrounding environment will have a big impact on your holiday.
The Myth of the City
Most language schools used to be in cities, but the rise of online learning has diluted their monopoly. There are now language homestay agencies (which manage the option to learn English in a family home) and language course comparison websites, which enable you to learn English all over the UK.
There are even little independent language schools popping up in small towns too (like this one).
Avoid Paying for Bigotry
The time was, English learners used to flock to Cambridge and Oxford, home to prestigious universities and publishers of dictionaries – as if this ensured they would learn English effectively (it doesn’t).
They paid a premium for a ‘better/correct’ version of English learned in the ‘home of the English language.’
You can still book numerous English language holidays in Stratford Upon Avon, home of Shakespeare as if that alone will be a golden ticket to perfect English skills.
Again, if Shakespeare is your passion – go for it. Otherwise, be wary.
Getting better in English is not about fetishising the English language, it’s about learning the skills you need and using them confidently – most likely in international contexts.
Out-dated, colonial ‘English-English is best’ attitudes still prevail in the language industry.
Not only is it bigoted, but quite frankly, the people who teach English like this are some of the most boring you’ll ever share airspace with (and you’ll be trapped in there for hours!).
Your immersion holiday objective is to further your English communication skills enjoyably, so that you love using them in the future.
Tips for Selecting an Environment
Be realistic about what you need and expect.
- You can’t get a specific accent in a week (or month) (perhaps in a year).
On the one hand, that means there’s no point in going to Oxford.
On the other hand, it means that yes! You can visit Scotland, Wales and Ireland!
- You will have enough time to get to know a particular place well.
What place(s) in the UK have you always wanted to see and explore?
Is that a city, a region – or a type of place, like art galleries, mountains, forests, beaches?
This could be your chance to discover a place and culture – if you make sure to pick an immersion English holiday that guarantees you’ll get out of the classroom and exploring.
Mistakes to Avoid
- There is no point paying London prices, if you are going to be sitting in a classroom for a week.
Make sure your prospective school makes its teaching schedule clear.
Do coaches join your immersion activities, or just let you explore by yourselves*?
*It is easy to overestimate how much language practice you will get by yourself. Small groups in immersive language situations will create much more frequent opportunities to talk – (and you still get to explore!) than trying to initiate quality conversations with strangers.
That’s hard to do on your own.
City, Countryside – or Small Town?
There ARE advantages and disadvantages to being in based a city and countryside, such as ease of access to landscapes versus proximity to an airport.
Ultimately the balance comes down to people and personality.
There’s no one right answer, just the best choice for YOU.
Where do you want to spend the majority of your holiday? (You can easily visit cities or forests as language excursions).
Where do you currently live? Do you want a break from that type of environment, or to explore a different, UK version of it?
Would you struggle if you had to go a week without a soya milk latte? Or do you crave time away from city noise exploring woodlands?
I tend to work with people who love being around trees and nature (and think it helps them be calm and learn).
Not only is it not everyone’s cup of tea, not everyone sees the pedagogic value of it.
Language Holiday in UK Tips
One tip is to consider what you would like your evenings to look like.
- Do you want nightlife, gay bars and live music on holiday?
- Or do you want the best view of the night sky you’ve ever had?
You have many options.
Spend time on the language school website until you are clear on their offer, then choose the right one for YOU.
View of a rural house in Glen Coe
How Rural is Good
Remember, some parts of the UK get VERY rural.
Ask yourself what ammenities you would like to have around you.
If it is fishing and beaches, great.
However, you need a certain density of people around you to practice speaking English with.
Small towns offer the best of both worlds.
What Results to Expect from an Immersion English Holiday
Language learning takes a huge amount of hours. You are not going to get it mastered in one holiday.
However, you should get plenty of chances to practice, feel roots growing in the culture and fall a little bit in love with the language.
That’s a really good result for a week’s investment.
Because that’s you on the way to a lifetime of language learning.
Which one is going to get you there? A city or rural setting?
Ask yourself if you are a country lover – or would a week of rural life break you?
7 Reasons to Choose a Small Town Language Holiday
Part 2 of this blog lists 7 reasons to choose a small-town immersion language holiday.
You can read it here.