ESL (English as a Second Language) programs play a crucial role in the education and integration of international students into English-speaking academic environments. They are instrumental in helping international students bridge language and cultural gaps and succeed academically. 

Selecting the best schools offering English as a Second Language (ESL) programs can vary depending on your specific needs and location preferences. Several schools worldwide offer English learning programs to domestic and international students interested in enhancing their language skills both for academic and professional purposes.

Here’s a list of seven well-regarded institutions with strong ESL programs from various regions around the world.

Top Schools Offering ESL Programs

If you are looking to improve your English skills, here is a list of top schools from around the globe offering quality ESL programs.

1. University of Oxford

  • Location: United Kingdom | Learning Modality: In-Person | Course Link

The University of Oxford is arguably one of the best universities in the world, ranked #5 in the best global universities. The university provides English language resources and support through the Department for Continuing Education. 

The University of Oxford offers a 10-week ESl course for international students aimed at improving their English language proficiency for academic purposes, work, and social settings. The course is offered based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

2. University of British Columbia

  • Location: Canada | Learning Modality: In-Person and Online | Course Link 

The University of British Columbia is one of the best universities not just in Canada but also in the world. It is welcoming to international students as evidenced by the high acceptance rate. To make learning easier for international students, the university offers a variety of ESL programs through its English Language Institute (ELI) to prepare students for academic success.

The university is located in Vancouver which is an ethnically diverse city with a very picturesque scenery. Students will not only benefit from the quality program but also immerse themselves in all the city has to offer. Additionally, international students studying at the university can benefit from other support initiatives like scholarships to help with their study expenses.

3. University of California, Los Angeles 

  • Location: USA | Learning Modality: In-Person | Course Link

Another great institution offering excellent ESL programs is the University of California, Los Angeles. UCLA College of Humanities offers ESL courses for students looking to improve their English language skills and prepare for university-level studies.

Students can either choose the Summer ESL Program or the Academic Year ESL Program to pursue their English language needs. The beauty of these programs is that they occur in classes of about 15-22 students, making it easy for students to get the necessary attention and help in regard to their learning needs.

4. University of Melbourne 

  • Location: Australia | Learning Modality: In-Person | Course Link

The University of Melbourne is Australia’s leading university known for having excellent programs in immunology, psychology, arts, and humanities. The Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne hosts the School of Languages and Linguistics where students can pursue an English as a Second Language program at undergraduate and graduate levels.  

Apart from the language programs, international students can benefit from other support programs at the university like visa guidance, academic skills workshops, and financial aid opportunities to support their academic journey. 

5. Asia-Pacific International University

  • Location: Thailand | Learning Modality: In-Person | Course Link

If you are looking to pursue a quality ESL program, the Asia-Pacific International University should be on your list. Located in Thailand, the Asia-Pacific International University is a private Christian university associated with the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

The University’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities offers an ESL program to students to enhance their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. The program runs for 20 hours every week and students can receive further support from the school’s English Lab. The tuition fee for the program is 28,675 Thai Baht, though there are other additional charges like Language lab costs and exams. Students can however benefit from programs like work-study to help offset some of the expenses.

6. University of Auckland 

  • Location: New Zealand | Learning Modality: In-Person, Online | Course Link

The University of Auckland is a top university in New Zealand ranking #1 in New Zealand and #123 in the world. The university boasts several notable alumni like Helen Clark who served as New Zealand’s 37th Prime Minister and Rose McIver who’s a renowned actress.

The English Language Academy provides ESL programs to more than 2000 students annually to prepare them for university studies and academic success. Students taking the online version of the program receive academic support services from the virtual study center full of practice material to enhance their English language skills. 

7. University of Hong Kong

  • Location: Hong Kong | Learning Modality: In-Person | Course Link 

Founded in 1911, the University of Hong Kong is the oldest tertiary institution in Hong Kong and one of the best universities ranking #2 in Hong Kong and #6 in Asia. It also ranks top in programs like microbiology, infectious diseases, and educational research.

The University offers an intensive English as a Second Language program for students training to be teachers of English and international students interested in enhancing their English language skills. The program runs for 5 weeks and takes place at the Hong Kong Island Learning Centre. The total cost for the program is HK$2,350.


The above-mentioned schools are known for their quality ESL programs which fortunately international students can pursue to improve their English language skills. Some programs like those offered at the University of British Columbia or the University of Auckland have an online offering making it easy for international students to pursue them from their home countries. Ensure that, you research each program’s specific offerings, location, cost, and resources to find the best fit for your language learning needs.

We hope that this article on ESL Programs was helpful. To find out more information on studying abroad, check out the Available Programs for International Students.

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