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7 Things to Consider Before Choosing Your English Course in Dublin

Kyle Hyunsung Kim

Kyle Hyunsung Kim

Co-Founder @ Dublin4You


Coming to Dublin is a great opportunity to improve your English. As of this writing there are more than 50 English language institutes within greater Dublin area offering various English language courses. Given all this choice, you might be wondering: “What is the right language school/course for me?” Here are 7 things you might want to consider before choosing your English language schools/courses.

1. Duration

Citizens of Schedule 1 countries are entitled to stay in Ireland for 90 days. If you are one of them, if you enrol on a course that runs for less than 90 days, you won’t need to apply for a study visa.

Students who are not from an EU or EEA state and who want to stay in Ireland to study for more than 90 days will need to apply for a study visa. This also applies to Schedule 1 countries.

If you are a Non-EU/EEA national and need a student visa, the school/your agent will provide you supporting documents.

If you’re coming to Dublin from Non-EU/EEA countries to study English for a longer period of time, you need to register for a 6 months language course in order to obtain an 8 months study visa. For the purpose of studying English, you can only do this three times in total. This gives you a maximum of 2 years you can spend studying English in Ireland on a student visa (8 months x 3 times = 24 months). In that time you will enrol on three 6 months courses.

2. Immigration Certified Course/School

Around 2014-2015 the Irish government introduced a set of new regulations for English schools. The aim was to stop visa factories; meaning English schools that allowed you to get a visa for a fee. As a result a lot of English schools closed down. Some went bankrupt, some were abandoned by their owners who left Ireland along with all the fees paid by students. It was a real disaster for international students who suddenly lost their school registration and also the legal basis for their visas.

Nowadays the Irish Immigration Services (INIS) provide a list of courses that allow you to apply for a visa. In order to get student visa, you MUST purchase courses from one of ILEP (Interim List of Eligible Programme) listed school. Please click below to view institutions that provide visa recognised English language courses.

3. School Location

Most English language schools are located in Dublin city centre area however, some schools are situated outside of the city centre area and require you to travel a bit from town.

You’ll need to figure out where you’re going to stay first and if possible, try to minimise the distance to your school from your home just to save time and money on public transportation.

If you want to find out more about Dublin’s public transport for students, check out our article linked below.

4. Budget

It all comes down to money when you’re living in a foreign country. That’s why it’s very important to spend your money wisely. Generally, expensive schools offer better study environment: nice and secure location, clean and spacious building, newly fitted study equipment etc. Additionally, it is partially true that expensive schools offer better education as they have more resources to invest into their teachers and teaching materials than inexpensive schools.

However, if someone asks me the following question:

“Will 2,000 euro school improve my English two times faster than 1,000 euro school?”

My answer will be “no”. However, you will need to make certain compromises if you decide to study in an inexpensive school. Cheaper schools are generally situated in an old and not very nice building. Furthermore, school facilities might not be great. Inexpensive schools may not have a varied mixture of nationalities in a class throughout the year. Sometimes it might happen that your class is dominated by students of one nationality.

There is one thing I believe when choosing English language schools in Ireland: “Money never lies”.

Summing up, you need to make a decision how much money you’re willing to spend on a language course based on your budget.

5. Purpose of Study

Most language schools in Dublin offer 2 different types of courses. General English course and Exam Preparation course. Almost 95% of international students choose to take a General English course because the aim of General English course is to improve one’s English in all 4 language skills (Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing).

However, if your purpose of study is to get into the college, do a masters course, or any other reason that requires you to get a recognised English language certification (IELTS, Cambridge exam, TOEFL etc.), you may want to buy an Exam Preparation course. Some schools offer General English and Exam Preparation combined courses.

6. Intensity of Study

In order to apply for a valid student visa (Stamp 2) in Ireland, you need to enrol an ILEP listed course that offers minimum of 15 hours of classes per week.

15 hours per week means you’ll be studying 3 hours a day from Monday to Friday. If you think this will be enough for you to improve your English, or if you want to improve your level of English outside of the classroom by socialising, travelling, partying or working, go ahead and buy a 15 hours course.

However, if you can invest a bit more money in your English education and want to study more hours with qualified English teachers in school, go for 20-30 hours a week course.

Again, money never lies.

7. To Work or Not to Work? Morning or Afternoon Course?

One good thing about student visa in Ireland is that you’re legally allowed to have a part-time job. With a valid student visa, you’re eligible to work up to 20 hours a week throughout the year and 40 hours a week on holiday season (1st Jun – 30th Sep & 15th Dec – 15th Jan).

If you think you must have a part-time job and earn money during your stay in Ireland, I strongly advise you to buy a morning course. Morning courses generally start at 9am and finish around 12-12:30pm so you have a whole afternoon and evening to work. (Most local restaurants/bars open around 12pm – 1pm).

However, if working is optional for you, and you prefer to start your day a bit late, a cheaper Afternoon course can be ideal.

Feel free to checkout our Work Student Starter Pack.

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