What is Ireland like as a destination to learn English?
Monday, 28th February 2011
Simon Ager, language enthusiast and Irish connoisseur, tells us the merits of learning English on the Emerald Isle
Ireland is fine place to study English, with a good selection of schools, good connections to continental Europe and other regions, the same currency as many European countries, great scenery and a fascinating culture.
English schools can be found in most parts of Ireland, with particular concentrations in the larger cities such as Dublin, Cork and Galway, especially in Dublin. Some schools are part of international chains, others are small independent schools, and you can choose to study in the centre of a city, in the suburbs, or in a small town. Different courses are available to suit your needs from general English and exam preparation, to courses for teachers. There are also courses which enable you to combine learning English with other activities such as golf, sailing, horse riding or making music.
Schools can arrange for to stay with local families, which a great way to immerse yourself in every day English, or will help you find other suitable accommodation. Some schools, such as those on college campuses, also have residential accommodation.
There is plenty to see and do in Ireland when you’re not studying. In Dublin, for example, there’s no shortage of museums, art galleries, cinemas, theatres, restaurants, historic buildings, and of course pubs, where you can often hear live music. Elsewhere there are mountains to climb, footpaths to follow, castles, ancient sites, beaches, breweries and picturesque towns and villages to visit, and beautiful countryside to explore.
Irish people are relaxed, friendly, spontaneous, hospitable and have a great love of conversation. If you spend any time in Irish pubs, it’s very likely that you will fall into conversation with people, which is, of course, a great way to practise your English. At first you may find it difficult to understand Irish English, but you will get used to it, and may even acquire an Irish accent yourself! If you avoid pubs because you don’t drink alcohol, you will miss out on a lot of Irish social life, much of which takes place in pubs. Drinking alcohol isn’t compulsory in them and they do sell soft drinks.
There’s a very lively music scene in Ireland and live performances are easy to find. Music sessions featuring traditional Irish music, or rock, pop or other styles of music can be found in many pubs and other venues. There are also numerous concerts and festivals, especially during the summer.
Studying English in Ireland will be an unforgettable experience and you may well decide to return, perhaps many times.