International Student Support

Improving your English Language

A very good level of English language competence is needed to follow lectures, do research and write essays and dissertations successfully.  If English is not your first language you must try to get to the best standard possible in order to achieve good results   on your course. 

Before you arrive - tips!

While you are here - tips!

INTO Queen's

Online resources

Before you arrive - tips!

  • Improve your English by practising speaking, reading, writing and listening to English regularly.  There are many useful online resources to help you do this - see the 'Resources' section below for more information.
  • The accent in Northern Ireland can be difficult to understand at first, and the more you hear it, the easier it will be.  Listen to local Northern Ireland radio and watch local television programmes.  You can watch and listen online on the BBC.
  • You might consider coming to study a pre-sessional course before you start your main degree programme.  See INTO Queen's section below for further information.

While you are here - tips!

When you get to Belfast, there is lots that you can do to improve your English.  You should remember that, no matter how good your English is before you get here, you are likely to find it difficult to understand for a while.  Even students whose first language is English, but who are not used to the Northern Irish accent, take a while to get used to it.  It also takes a while to understand all of the idioms and slang that is used locally.  This is perfectly normal and you should not worry.  It will get easier with practise.

  • Talk to as many local people or other English speaking students as possible.
  • Try to make friends with students who do not speak the same language as you, so you are not tempted to talk in your own language a lot.
  • Take an in-sessional English course. See INTO Queen's section below for further details.

INTO Queen's

Pre-sessional courses

INTO Queen's provide pre-sessional courses for students who wish or need to improve their English language before they can start their degree programme.  Courses are provided for students of all levels of English.  You can find more information here.

In-sessional courses

INTO Queen's provide a range of courses in Academic English designed to support international students during their studies at Queen's. Focusing on areas such as academic writing, seminar skills and language development, these courses build upon the student’s existing language ability and develop skills in English for academic purposes.

Tuition is free to students, with only a £20 charge to cover books, teaching materials and administration costs. Class sizes are limited to 16 students per class with each class running for two hours per week over a ten week period.

Students from all Schools, studying at any level, and at any stage of their programme are welcome to join in-sessional classes. University staff are also very welcome to join classes. The tuition fee for staff is £100 per course.

Registration for takes place at the INTO Queen’s Centre (2-8 Lennoxvale) at the beginning of each semester. Further information including dates, times and contact details are available here.

Online resources


BBC Worldservice - Learning English 

British Council - Learn English

Local television and radio - BBC

Local television and radio - UTV

Speech Action