If you are interested in learning English in Ireland, we have put together a country summary of what you can expect when you study at an English language school:
Leave your tourist image behind – along with your shamrocks and leprechauns. Soon after you arrive to learn English in Ireland, you will realize that this country is marked with beauty and traditions unlike any you may have imagined. To appreciate the culture, you must first understand Ireland.
Ireland has been inhabited for over 9,000 years. This island has experienced a large influx of immigrants including the Vikings, Normans, English and Scots that have made Ireland unique in its culture. Throughout the 16th and 19th centuries, the population continued to grow until a famine caused a large emigrant population to relocate to England, Canada, Australia, the United States, with the majority traveling to the US. Since then, Ireland has recovered fully from these conditions and now receives a large immigrant population. In fact, 10% of the current population is made up of foreign nationals mostly from Poland, China, Nigeria, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, and Latvia.
In 2010, Ireland had a youthful population of 4.6 million people. Broken down by demographics, 67% of the population is between 15 and 64 years old with a median age of 34. Ireland has an ancient culture that incorporates Celtic, Gaelic, and medieval influences. While you study English in Ireland, you will be able to see the cultural influences spread through Ireland as evidence by the architecture, artwork, and music. Among this culture, a large religious presence is evident throughout the daily lives of the people. The majority of the population, 87%, is Roman Catholic. This is the largest religion, second after 4% of the population which state that they do not have a religion.
If this is not enough interesting facts, the Lonely Planet listed Ireland as one of the World’s Friendliest Countries, described as, “they’ve been left with a deliciously dark sense of humour and a welcoming attitude towards strangers.” Is there anything more important that to have interesting and friendly people to speak English with you while you learn English?
The official languages are Irish (Gaelic) and English.
While Irish is considered to be an official language, British acquisition introduced English throughout the nation. Even after independence, English began to dominate Irish throughout the country. In order to preserve the Irish heritage, the government worked to reestablish Irish as a spoken language requiring students to take Irish in school and post official information in both English and in Irish. Even with these mandates, English continues to be the most commonly spoken language. You will, however, find that there are some areas around the western coast where Irish is spoken every day. While enrolled in an English course in Ireland, there is no doubt that you'd be able to use your English in everyday situations outside the classroom.
Ireland is temperate year round with warm summers and mild winters. If you plan to enroll in an English course in Ireland during the summer months, which are usually between May and July, you can expect long days of sunshine ending somewhere after 10pm. Temperatures are typically around 30 C (86 F). Winters are typically from December to February with temperatures rarely dipping below freezing. Typically, temperatures range from 4 C (39.2 F) to 7.6 C (45.7 F) during the winter season. Be prepared – winter has the shortest days where night usually falls around 5pm.
As for rain, you will want to be sure to pack your raincoat! Most of the rain is on the west coast – in fact they receive four times more rain than that of the east coast. If you will be enrolled in an English course in Ireland during the winter, you will most likely have rain since the wettest months are December and January. April and June are the driest months, but it is still possible to get some rain. You can rest assured that at least snow and sleet are quite rare unless you are in the mountainous regions.
Ireland has a long coastline that is marked by cliffs on the west coast. The west can be characterized as rough and rocky whereas the interior part of Ireland has rugged hills and plains. There are some mountains inland that are toward the northern and southern regions. About 17% of the land is available for crop cultivation; however, the country is not highly urbanized. Sixty-one percent of the population lives in urban areas.
Ireland has a host of activities for travelers to enjoy, whether you are looking for the outdoors or city experiences while you study English in Ireland. You will have the opportunity to hike the Mountains of Mourne and Rathlin Islands, surf, kayak, sip locally brewed whiskey and beer, visit famous cathedrals like St. Patrick's Catheral, explore Irish castles, golf, bike, and attend the many festivals that the country hosts.
Tipping is expected in Ireland if service is not included in the bill. It is usual to offer 10 in restaurants and taxi drivers.
Before you study English in Ireland, you will want to budget for your trip. Keep in mind that costs can be quite expensive as the economy continues to recover from the 2008/2009 economic collapse. While many are struggling with the economic environment, this has not created an environment of low prices for tourists. Instead, many restaurants, hostels, hotels, etc. have increased prices to stay afloat.
|Loaf of bread||€ 1.74|
|Eggs (12)||€ 3.35|
|Sugar 1Kg||€ 1.09|
|Coffee||€ 2 – 4.70|
|Water (.33 liter bottle)||€ 0.68- € 2.63|
|Fresh milk (1 gallon)||€ 1.09|
|Bottle of Wine||€ 9.21|
|Laundry Detergent (1Kilo)||€ 4.99 – 11.99|
|Bus Fare||€ 1.15 – € 1.60|
|Taxi one way (1 mile)||€1.86|
|Main course dessert and drink||€ 14-30|
|Fast food||€ 7.11|
|Vodka + Mixer etc.||€ 6.00|
|Soft drink||€ 1.97|
|Gym membership one month||€ 48.81|
|Cinema ticket||€ 9.74|
Ireland has a well developed system of public transportation that most travelers use to get around. Bus and train are the primary means of transportation, however you may find yourself itching to rent a car since public transportation can be expensive and occasional. The bus system is the more affordable method and reaches many destinations with flexible pick-up and drop-off sites. Bus Éireann and Ulsterbus (in North Ireland) is the national bus company that operates local and long-distance buses. In some towns, however, the national bus company is virtually non-existent so there are private bus companies that transport people. Iarnród Éireann is the main train system that is designed to connect larger urban areas together for easy travel. You can purchase bus-only, train-only and bus and train tickets if you plan on doing a lot of travel.
If you are looking for local transportation, you might find a bicycle a preferred method of travel. While some road surfaces might not be in the best condition, you will find that you can get to place-to-place quite easily. Even buses have additional space to accommodate a bicycle although there may be an additional fee assessed. You have the option to purchase – or even rent – a bike as your means of daily transportation.
Ireland has a low violent crime rate, although there has been limited violence to foreigners and tourists from racial and minority groups. You will want to keep an eye on your personal belongings as theft is common in highly touristic areas. Bag snatching and rental cars have been targeted in these areas as well. Also be careful around ATMs by protecting personal information and checking the machine for any tampering.
Depending on where you are coming from, there are many transportation options to arrive just in time for you to learn English in Ireland. If you are coming from Britain or France, you can take a ferry or fast boat. If you come from farther distances, you may consider taking a flight into Ireland. There are five main international airports in Ireland – Dublin International Airport being the busiest with 22 million passengers per year. The national airline is Aer Lingus, which brings visitors from destinations around the world, however, many other airline carriers will provide transportation as well.
Visitors from countries which are part of the European Economic Area (EEA) will need a passport that remains valid for at least 6 months after their arrival in Ireland. This EEA zone includes part of the European Union along with Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein. The European Economic Area as well as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the US, do not need a visa in order to visit Ireland. Residents of the United Kingdom do not need a passport to enter Ireland, however it is recommended to carry identification that proves residency. Alternatively, nationals from China, India and African nations do need a visa to enter.