Are you thinking about travelling to Ireland to learn English? If you are, you’ve come to the right place to find out everything you need to know to plan your trip and arrival! Book A Language School’s headquarters is based in Dublin, Ireland so we are experts on the city, the different English schools available and on life in Dublin. What to do, things to see and how to do them all!
This is the biggest worry for many students, so we will try to explain it as simply as possible. If you have a passport from an EEA country (EU countries plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein), then you can skip to the next section as you don’t need a Visa to enter Ireland!
If you are from a country like Brazil or Mexico, then you will need a Visa to study in Ireland. You can enter Ireland for 12 weeks on a tourist Visa but if you want to stay and study and English course for 8 months, then you need a “Work and Study Visa” – also called a “Stamp 2 Visa”. This Visa lets you stay in Ireland for 8 months. You must take an English course for 6 months, with a minimum of 15 hours of classes per week. You can renew it twice more, meaning you can do 24 months in Ireland in total. Your English will be perfect after this! What you need to know about the Visa:
- You must book a course with a school that appears on the ILEP list. Only these schools can issue letters that entitle you to a Work and Study Visa.
- When you pay your fees in full, the school will give you a letter that you can take to immigration to get your Visa
- When you get your Visa, you will be allowed to study an English course for 6 months. To get the Visa, you must also:
- Take a course with at least 15 hours per week in class.
- Have €7000 available, not including your course fees.
- Have suitable medical insurance.
- You must register for a recognised exam like IELTS or FCE/CAE/CPE
- You are entitled to 2 months of holidays. You can take this anytime but you can only take holidays equal to one third of the time you have already studied.
- You can work 20 hours per week all year.
- During June, July, August and September plus 15th December to 15th January, you can work 40 hours per week, but only if you are on a holiday period.
For some countries, you need to get a Visa before you travel to Ireland. More information on these countries is available here. We recommend you contact our trusted partner, Visa First, for more advice on travelling from these countries.
Choosing an English school:
There are a lot of accredited English schools in Ireland – over 100 at last count, spread out between Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and other places. How do you know which one to choose? Well, there are some guidelines you can follow:
Accreditations: All good English schools in Ireland have the ACELS / QQI accreditation. ACELS is the old accreditation and has been replaced by QQI so any school with one of these is ok. These schools are checked regularly by the Irish government to ensure that they are good quality and will not go out of business overnight. If you want your booking to be secure, make sure you book an ACELS school. On BookALanguageSchool.com, we work only with ACELS accredited schools to ensure our partners are very high quality.
Price: Price is not as important in choosing an English school as you would think. Yes, some schools are far cheaper than others but this is not always a sign of less quality. Our staff have all worked in schools before and we can guarantee you that many of the “high price” schools also have high costs to cover. Some of the “budget” schools are as good and better than the expensive schools. The most important thing to ensure is that the schools I good quality. Check the accreditations and the reviews from past students. These are often the best way to know if an English school is good or not.
Location: Where you choose to study English in Ireland can have a huge effect on your experience in Ireland. Most students choose to study in Dublin. Dublin is the capital city, has the highest number of schools available and probably has the best social scene in all of Ireland. However, it is also the most expensive to live in which can be difficult for students travelling on a budget. If you’ve decided you want to live in a city, have a look at Limerick, Cork and Dublin before you book. They are smaller cities but still have great amenities and social scenes and some great schools. Most importantly, they can be a lot cheaper to live in than Dublin. For something completely different, and much cheaper for accommodation and living expenses, why not consider Killarney or Donegal as destinations? These are rural towns and offer a completely different experience – they are smaller, quieter but are much more like the “old Ireland” that you will often see on tourism ads. Everyone knows everyone and the local pubs are usually fantastic. No location is better than any other, but all offer their own unique experiences.
There are loads of different accommodation types available for students but all schools usually offer four main types:
- This is the most popular choice for students learning English in Ireland. You live with an Irish family and have the opportunity to practice your English with them. Prices vary but are usually around €190/week for a single room. Usually this is half-board, meaning your breakfast and dinner are included. Depending on the location, host families can be located anywhere from 10 minutes’ walk to 45 minutes public transport away from the school.
- Some schools operate their own residence and other schools use a provider for these. Both options are fine, as you will always deal with the school or with your agent. (Book A Language School can provide you with information on the accommodation provided by all schools). Residences are a popular option but availability is limited, so you need to book in advance to get them, especially for the summer months. For Ireland, we recommend booking at least 8-10 weeks in advance if possible to make certain you get a space. Residences are usually located close to the school – on average a 20 minute walk away. In the summer, some schools will use University residences that are further away. You should check this in advance. Prices vary hugely between schools and can be anywhere from €225-350/week.
Shared Apartment/City Accommodation
- Similar to a residence, these are apartments/houses in the city centres that are shared either with other students or sometimes with an Irish host. These are a great option for students as they give you the full flexibility of private accommodation but also allow you to practice your English with others. Prices are usually around €200/week for a self-catering basis, so they are slightly more expensive than host families.
- This budget option is available to all students. Schools often have partnerships with local hostels to give you a better rate. We recommend using a hostel as a temporary accommodation only as most students who book a long-term stay in a hostel will start to find it claustrophobic and will seek to change to a different type of accommodation. The max we would recommend is 2 weeks.
Public transport in Ireland can be very good or very bad, depending on where you are based. In Dublin and other cities, you will have access to a bus network that will get from A to B quite quickly. In Dublin only, you also have access to the DART and the LUAS, which are a train and tram option for getting around the city. The south side if the city is served by the Green Luas and the north side of the city is served by the Red Luas. If you are coming to Ireland and will need to use public transport, we recommend getting a Leapcard which will give you discounted rates on Buses, Trains and LUAS. This is the easiest and cheapest option. If you are in a rural town or village, most amenities are usually close enough to walk to – which is lucky as the public transport links are often not very good!
The cost of living in Ireland can be completely different depending on where you choose to study English. The most expensive location is Dublin, followed by other cities like Limerick, Cork and Galway. More rural areas will be cheaper to live in. The biggest differentiator in costs is accommodation. A single room in Dublin city centre will average €750/month whereas in a smaller city, this will be closer to €350/month. To give you an idea of other costs so that you can compare:
- 1 litre of milk is €1
- A cappuccino will cost you about €3
- A pint (500ml) of beer will cost you about €5
- A 2l bottle of Coca Cola will cost you about €2
- A city centre bus fare will cost about €2.50
Overall, Ireland is a fantastic place to learn English. There are a large choice of English schools and courses. Compared to the UK, it is cheaper and more accessible. The local people are very friendly and will happily speak with you in English. The accent is clear and there are loads of things to see and do – check our post here for more information.
If you have any questions about learning English abroad, or would like help booking an English course in Ireland, please feel free to contact Book A Language School on [email protected] or visit our website. Alternatively, just fill in the form below and we will reply within 24 hours!