Published 10th June 2019

language schools

When you think of teaching English as a Foreign Language, you probably see yourself teaching a class of thirty ten year-olds in a Beijing primary school. It’s true that the majority of EFL positions are teaching English to children in a non-English speaking country, but a lot of people don’t realise there is more to TEFL than that. Many EFL students choose to learn English when they are adults through  language schools.

A language school is a private company that offers classes to English language learners. The classes range from General English to Business English to English for Academic Purposes. The classes run all day and sometimes in the evenings too. The students can be full-time language school students who are at the school for a week or six months or a year, or they work and attend language lessons in their free time.

There are language schools in non-English speaking countries but also in English-speaking countries. In fact, there are probably more English language schools in the world than there are pubs in England! Some language schools are boutique independent schools while others are massive international chains. It is highly likely that you will come into contact with a language school at some point in your EFL career so it’s best that you know who you are dealing with.

7 well-known EFL Language Schools

Wall Street English

Wall Street English has over 400 language centres in 28 territories, with a total student enrollment of 180 000. Some of the centres are owned by the Wall Street English company while others are franchises, so they can be run differently. The biggest perk of teaching in a Wall Street school is that your lesson materials and lesson plans are provided to you. On the downside, you can find yourself teaching the same lesson over and over again.


EF English First is one of the biggest language schools in the world. There are 612 EF schools in 107 countries – they are everywhere! There are especially a lot of openings in EF schools in China, Indonesia and Russia. The different EF centres can be run quite differently depending on the management team so your experiences at EF Shanghai could be totally different to teaching at EF Cape Town.


International House was founded in 1953 and now boasts 160 language schools in over 50 countries. IH is a language school where students can learn not only English but a range of other languages as well. IH puts a strong focus on teacher development.

Disney English

Disney English is a language school for students ages 2 to 12 in China. It is a relatively new chain, having first opened in 2008. Lesson plans are provided to teachers and all materials make use of Disney characters. Teachers are given training in the Disney teaching techniques.


Even though nobody knows what EC actually stands for (English Centre? English course?), EC is still a popular language school. There are EC schools in Malta, South Africa, Ireland, the UK, Canada and the US.

The British Council

No list of English language schools would be complete without the British Council. The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. One aspect of the organisation is their language schools which can be found all over the world. They also have an astounding amount of English language learning resources for both students and teachers on their website.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of EFL language schools. Other notable names include Berlitz, Embassy English and Kaplan International. Though all of these schools are chains, this doesn’t mean that you can paint them all with the same brush. Each school is different, even within their chain.

If you are considering working for a language school, don’t forget to do your due diligence for that particular branch to make sure it is a school you really want to work in. If you can find a school that suits you, working in a language school can be a very rewarding experience, especially for teachers just starting out.