Choosing a Language Holiday in the UK

This blog gives a fresh look at people’s preconceptions about choosing WHERE to travel to learn English, with tips on answering this one question: should you go urban or rural for your English immersion holiday?

Go Urban or Go Rural?

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, great, go!

But as you will see in this blog,  there is misinformation about which places are ‘best’ for language learning.

Of course, there are other important things to consider too (like class size, accommodation, and price).

This blog is dedicated to discovering what environment will suit you best.

The surrounding environment WILL impact the style of holiday, AND how/what you learn, so get this choice right! 

glasgow grafitti of feet with filter effect for Language holiday in Scotland
Street art in Glasgow

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.


Glasgow and river Clyde with effect - for language holiday in scotland
View of a Glasgow and the River Clyde

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?


Your English immersion holiday is your chance to discover a new place and culture, as long as you choose one that guarantees you’ll get out of the classroom and explore.

    Mistakes to Avoid


    Make sure your prospective school makes its teaching schedule clear.

    How big are the classes? How many immersion activities? 



    Do coaches join your immersion activities, or just let you explore by yourselves?

    They won’t be coaching your ENglish if they re not with you.  


    There is no point paying London prices if you are going to be sitting in a classroom for a week.

     If you want an intensive English course that is mostly inside a house or classroom, find the right teacher, not the city. 


    You Do Need a Guide or Group

    Mistakes to Avoid

    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 generate 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? (Remember, you can easily visit cities or forests as language excursions). 

    We explore Scottish cities, festivals and art exhibitions on our English conversation holidays.

    A rural base is just a base.

    More of the Same? Or a Change?

    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.  

    Consider Your Free Time

    Do you want nightlife, gay bars and stadium shows on holiday?



    Or do you want the best view of the night sky you've ever had?



    Language Holiday in UK Tips

    One final tip is to consider what you would like your evenings to look like.

    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. 

    How Rural is Good

    Remember, some parts of Scotland get VERY rural.

    Ask yourself what amenities you would like to have around you.

    If it is fishing and beaches, great.

    However, you do need a certain density of people around you to practice speaking English.

    Small towns can offer the best of both worlds.

    Glen Coe English Immersion in Scotland

    View of a rural house in Glen Coe

    Photo credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam – Used with permission

    What Results to Expect from an Immersion English Holiday

    Language learning takes a huge amount of hours. You are not going to get everything 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 transformation is a really good result for a week’s investment.

    Because that’s key to a lifetime of language learning.

    Which one is going to get YOU there?

    A city or rural setting?


    Books for Learning English icon

    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.


    Further Information