Bobbi Hartshorne, Head of Career Guidance and Partnerships at Laimoon.com Bobbi has over 8 years of experience in course guidance in the UK and UAE. She can support you with finding the right course to suit your career ambitions.

How to learn English in the UAE

Updated on September 3, 2014 // Created on June 18, 2014

The UAE is considered one of the best destinations for English learning in the region. Many people both resident within the UAE and travelling here from abroad choose to engage with English learning. Some people wish to acquire some English conversational skills for general use. While some need very specialized English skills designed for their particular role, such as aviation, hospitals, hotels etc. For others they must acquire an English proficiency score to get them entry into a University program, or a job, or a visa for a new country etc. The good news is that there are courses to suit all these needs and more in the UAE.

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Travelling to the UAE to learn English

If you are wishing to travel to the UAE to learn English, there are some great options for you to consider. In particular, some course providers offer intensive courses where you can do 4-6 hours per day for 1-3 weeks, to really improve your English ability in a very short space of time.

General English

There is an abundance of general English learning courses in the UAE. These include a focus on different levels from beginner to advanced as well as specialist courses in speaking only, writing only etc. There are also courses for those with more or less time to learn including classes held during evenings, afternoons, and weekends. There are also full time summer intensive courses and online learning options for those who will struggle to make it to the classroom. For those who want to learn in their own time, you can also have 1-2-1 lessons just for you. Prices for groups classes vary from as little as 500 AED up to 2500 AED, but bear in mind that you may get more hours in a smaller group for a higher price.

It can be a little overwhelming to choose, so we recommend browsing the options at Laimoon and using the red ‘get more info’ button to make contact with each of the providers. To establish which is the best courses are for you, we recommend asking the following questions:

  • Where do classes take place?
  • How many times a week do I need to come to class?
  • What is the class schedule? - delete
  • How many learners will be in each class?
  • Is there an intensive option available where I can learn really quickly? - delete
  • How many hours are included in the price?
  • Much of this information is available online, but it also good to double check with the course provider.
  • English for specific purposes

The most common specialized English course is business English however there are also others you can look into as well for hospitality, IT, aviation etc. These courses cost around 1000 – 3500 AED for 20-30 hours.

English Proficiency Tests

If you need to prove your English ability and get a recognized certificate, you should consider the following options.

IELTS and TOEFL are particularly designed with an academic approach for University entrance and test listening, speaking, reading and writing in a combined way. They are both notoriously difficult and the test should cost about $200. However, it is recommended that you also do some preparatory lessons to give you the best chance of passing with the score you need. There are many preparatory courses available in the UAE which vary from 1000 AED – 3000 AED. There are some small differences to consider before choosing:

  • IELTS has a UK focus and TOEFL a USA focus which will impact on accents and spellings, although the lines are become more blurred here in both cases
  • IELTS requires you to take the speaking element live with an examiner, whilst TOEFL you record your answers into a microphone.
  • IELTS score is split into 4 elements and also an average of the 4 to give your overall score. However, sometimes you are required to prove your score in all four elements such as 6,6,6,6 with an average of 6 and getting 6,4,6,8 with an average of 6 would mean you do not meet the requirements. Whereas TOEFL gives you one overall score only and the different elements are not given individual scores.

TOEIC is a lesser known testing system which splits reading and writing from listening and speaking and as such may be better suited to working professionals who only need to prove certain skills for the workplace. Each exam is about $75. TOEIC is a lot less common in the UAE although there are a couple of preparatory and test centers which can be found online.

Cambridge ESOL is another option for those wanting sound proof of their English ability. As well as listening, speaking, reading and writing Cambridge also tests your application of English. ESOL comes in many shapes and forms including different levels, so those seeking to prove their very senior English capability may find this option allows them to do so. There are a number of providers in the UAE and in most cases the British Council in any country will be able to help you further with this. Prices vary.

Pearson test of English is used both as a suitable entrance to University as well as for UK visa applications. It is a computer-based-test and you can book this through the Pearson website, it costs around 1000 AED. There are a number of Pearson test and preparation course providers in the UAE which can be found online.

The last of the major English proficiency test systems is Michigan, which is more focused on professionals rather than students applying for University. It tests English structures, business-related terms, and analytical skills and is particularly designed to test your English effectiveness in the workplace. It costs $90 to take the test, which is web-based. More information can be found at the Michigan website.

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