Upon first moving to London, not everyone’s knowledge of the language is up to scratch. Many move there for the purpose of learning English, but soon find out that London can be an expensive city, and the cost of living doesn’t leave much spare cash for language courses. What if the solution was to actually learn English for free? Yes, it is possible not to pay huge amounts for classes, and we’ve done some research for you so that you know where to start.
1. Get in touch with your local council.
Most councils offer English classes for immigrants. For example, on Kingston Council’s website you can read: “Lack of English skills has been identified as a barrier to integration within the local community and accessing essential services [...]. We have secured funding from the European Integration Fund to [...] provide free lessons in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)”. Whichever area of London you have settled in, get in touch with your local authorities and ask whether you can access their free resources.
2. Find resources on the official ESOL website.
Go to esolcourses.com to find a number of solutions to suit your time availability, knowledge level and location constraints. Here you can find the list of their centres that offer ESOL and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) courses. And, when you have spare time at home, you can follow their free online courses, such as English for Beginners or Elementary English.
3. Research adult learning centres
These are other institutions that provide tuition for adults who have moved to the UK and need to learn the basics of the language to find better jobs. For example, the Westminster Adult Education Service explains that “If you are a citizen of the UK or a country within the European Economic Area or have lived in either for at least the last three years, then you should be eligible for UK government funding for your ESOL course. People with certain types of immigration status such as refugee status, discretionary, exceptional or indefinite leave to enter or to remain and their family members are also usually eligible. [...] Courses are free if you receive Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and are in the work-related activity group (WRAG). If you are unemployed and are receiving state benefits you may be able to study for free.”
4. Enrol with the British Council’s Learnenglish scheme
The LearnEnglish website is excellent to start off with, as it offers assessment tests where you can identify your knowledge level, in order to find the right course for you. You then choose from a number of resources, and they’re not your basic grammar lessons, either. These come in the form of videos or audio to listen to, and even games to make learning more engaging and entertaining. It’s all online so it can fit around your work schedule, too.
5. Join groups on Meetup
Meetup is a great place to meet all sorts of people and sign up to a number of activities, including English conversation groups. A big one is the Free London Conversation Club (UKCE), that will allow you to to practice your English with native teachers and international students. But you can search meetup.com for more.