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When English is not your first language

If you arrive in the United Kingdom and not being able (or confident enough) to speak fluent English, it can be difficult to settle down. It can be tough trying to talk with your neighbours and make new friends. Also finding a job may be a challenge. However, there are ways to improve your language skills in a short period of time to increase your confidence and allow you to make friends and find a job.

Language Course
You could attend a short language course to improving your English quickly. There are many sites available promoting short and intense courses. One source to find out what might be a good course is your Embassy or via the employer of your partner. The latter must have dealt with more requests for improving the language skills of their expat partner. You could also look on your local council web site. Also the Meetup groups (see further in this blog) is a good source for information.

Meet the locals
If you came here without an expat partner it might be a sensible idea to share a flat with English people. You will have to speak English and you will improve your ‘small’ social talk quite quickly. You could also consider joining a sports club as interaction through sport creates a bond and allows you to practice your English.

Another way to improve your English is reading the free morning and late afternoon newspapers which you will find at the Underground stations. The METRO in the morning and the Evening standard in the late afternoon are filled with short articles about general and London news. On Tuesdays the TimeOut is available on various locations throughout the city. This is another good free magazine to improve your reading English and at the same time finding out about all the cultural things which are on offer in London.
Watching television is very good for listening to the pronunciation of the language in general. The news items are very informative and useful to increase your vocabulary.

Find a buddy to practices your English with. You can sign up on one of the many available Meetup groups via For instance ‘The English language exchange group’ is based in London and are meeting on a regular basis. Most of the Meetups are free of charge.

You could also consider getting a simple job that gets you into contact with locals such as working in a pub or restaurant or at a shop. Many nationalities have groups and through these you might hear of potential jobs and employers who are sympathetic to certain nationalities. But beware of jobs where they exploit the fact that you are willing to do anything or where you are just with people who speak the same language as your English is very unlikely to improve.

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