Language courses in the US are not the cheapest option. A week of language learning can cost you 800-1,000 USD (including meals and accommodation). However, it is a great way to quickly improve your language skills among native American English speakers, experience a rich culture, and prepare for higher education at some of the world's most prestigious universities.

Advantages of language courses in the USA

  • Accessibility. Most courses do not have a minimum language requirement. Your level of proficiency only affects the curriculum and is determined during the introductory week. Schools are quite flexible in their level distribution. If the course is too easy for you, you can move to a higher level group. After passing the final exam, some schools give certificates that allow you to not take the international exam when entering US partner universities.
  • American English. The English language has many accents and dialects. In the UK, Singapore, and Australia, the pronunciations differ enough to have official names. But the most common is the American dialect. We hear it in TV shows and it is spoken in a business environment. At American language schools, you can practice it directly with native speakers.
  • University campuses. Some language programs offer courses with accommodation on the campuses of Yale and other prestigious universities. They are like small towns. They have huge libraries, parks, entertainment venues, and sports complexes.
  • Multicultural country. Migrants from all continents of the world live in the US. You will learn about the culture, cuisine, and lifestyle of different countries from other language course students, tourists, and natives.
  • Work during and after school. You can legally work up to 20 hours a week with an F1 visa. If you wish, you can change your student visa to a temporary work visa at the end of the course and stay in the country.
  • Large selection of programs. There are a huge number of both specific (for example, Club 40+) and standard courses (General, Exam, Business) with any intensity.

Disadvantages of language courses in the USA

  • High costs. Depending on the intensity, a week of courses costs from 400 USD, and accommodation — 290-500 USD/week. Due to the high cost, scams are common in this country. Always check the school's accreditation and reviews, especially if the cost of education is below the market average.
  • Visa difficulties. Not only will a lot of documents be required from you, but during the interview, the consul will ask for evidence (for example, work experience or ownership) that you do not intend to immigrate. Granted, there is a risk of being denied a visa, either due to errors in the documents or if the consul simply does not like your answers.

US language course fees

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Types of language courses in the USA

Type of programIntensityGroupMin. language levelMin. cost per weekAvg. cost per week
General English10-3011-16Beginner190 USD440 USD
Academic English20-3011-16Beginner375 USD440 USD
Intensive English course25-3011-16Elementary425 USD540 USD
Super Intensive English course30-5011-16Intermediate445 USD580 USD
Exam preparation courses20-256-15Intermediate375 USD525 USD
Business English20-257-10Intermediate375 USD525 USD
English plus hobby10-155-10Intermediate130 USD550 USD
Vacation English10-152-3Elementary300 USD415 USD
English for teaching25-305-10Intermediate330 USD650 USD
English for work20-3011-15Intermediate435 USD520 USD
One-to-one lessons5-501Beginner75 USD/lesson90 USD/lesson
ALCPs20-3010-15Intermediate1,500 USD/month2,600 USD/month

When looking for language courses, you may come across such abbreviations: ESL, IEPs, ALCPs[1]. They indicate a course category and may appear in the program names of some language schools and universities.

  • English as a Second Language (ESL) — the most common category of courses. It can apply to both General English and Academic English programs. If you see only ESL in the title of a program, then it is designed for beginner or intermediate levels and is not the most intense.
  • Intensive English Programs (IEPs) — such courses are distinguished by a greater number of hours per week. Most often, this category includes programs for exam preparation, professional courses — English for Work, Business English, English for Teaching, as well as intermediate courses (bridge programs) that help to enter a college or university (not guaranteed). Typically, the intensity in such courses is 20-30 hours, but there are also super intensive ones that can reach 50 per week.
  • American Language and Culture Programs (ALCPs) — designed for students with an advanced knowledge of English (minimum B2). They are aimed at adapting future students to US culture, life on campus, and developing individual skills (reading, writing, grammar). Universities where the programs are held count language credits towards further studies. Upon graduation, you can enter these universities without TOEFL and IELTS certificates. Most often, ALCPs courses last from 4 weeks with an intensity of 20-30 hours per week. Their main difference is that the curriculum focuses on the culture and history of the United States. Some schools can accommodate you on campus and teach in university classrooms.

There are programs that are difficult to categorize. Most often, these are individual, tourist, or combined courses. We will describe only the main ones.

  • English plus hobby — combine English learning with other skills, such as drawing, music, or sports.
  • Vacation English somewhat reminiscent of the previous program, but here you combine your studies not with hobbies, but with vacation. These are more relaxed programs with low intensity. In the morning or evening, you study the language for several hours, and then explore the city or relax on the beach. This course has other names, such as Afternoon or English in the City.
  • One-to-one lessons — individual courses. They have a high cost, but this is offset by the quality and effectiveness of learning. You choose the intensity yourself, and the curriculum is adapted to your language level and learning goal.
  • Young adult 13-17 / adult 30+, 40+, 50+ — programs designed for groups of certain ages. They are distinguished by greater student involvement. Teachers try to maintain a dialogue with students, first of all teaching conversational skills.

More about language courses types

Features of admission to US language schools

To enroll in language courses in the United States, a student needs to prepare a package of documents, which includes:

  • Application form
  • Passport copy
  • Receipt of full tuition and school registration fee payments

In addition, the student should take care of obtaining a visa in advance to enroll in American language courses. This process can take from several weeks to 2-3 months.

The US Migration Service is quite strict about language course students, given that many foreigners use their studies as a loophole for immigration. Therefore, it is worth carefully approaching the preparation of documents. One of the main reasons for refusal is the lack of ties with the homeland — that is, evidence that you will return to your country after studying in the United States. The requirements for documents have been gradually relaxed, but we still recommend preparing for an interview with the consul. You will be helped by property and kinship certificates, along with the presence of a permanent job.

The learning process itself is not much different from language courses in other countries. Before starting classes, students take a specialized test to determine the level of English proficiency. Then, teachers distribute students into study groups depending on the test results. Some schools offer an online test before coming to the US. As a rule, such tests are carried out at intervals of one to two weeks in order to track the educational progress of each student and the group as a whole.

Features of learning depend on the type of course and its intensity. A less rigorous course will allow you to travel, work, and study the country more fully. Perhaps it will be even more effective for improving vocabulary and pronunciation. But more intensive courses will allow you to work on the weakest parts of your language.

Accommodation options while studying in the USA

Accommodation optionsMealsNumber of people per roomCost
Host familyBreakfast / breakfast + dinner1-2290 USD per week
School residenceNot included2-4

270-230 USD per week

HotelBreakfast and dinner (optional)1525-910 USD per week
Rented housingAt the discretion of the student1-21,365 USD per month

Additional costs for studying in the USA

ExpensesAverage cost
Registration fee170 USD
Medical insurance (if not included)25 USD/week
Study materials (if not included)40 USD
Delivery of invitation (Form I-20)80 USD
Embassy consular fee190 USD
Entrance exam to the university375 USD
Airport transfer115 USD
Additional summer accommodation fee (June-August)40 USD

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Visa for language courses in the USA

A non-immigrant visa is required to enroll in language courses. The type of visa depends on the duration of the program. If the program lasts no longer than 12 weeks, then a B-2 tourist visa (Visitor Visa) is sufficient. For long-term programs with an intensity of more than 18 hours per week, an F-1 student visa is required. Both categories are hard to obtain.

First, you must register for the course and pay its cost for the entire duration of the course. After that, you will be sent an invitation from the language school — Form I-20. Then, you must pay the I-901 SEVIS fee and apply for a Form DS-160 through the US Department of State website. Finally, all that remains is to sign up for an interview at the US Consulate and prepare copies of the received documents and receipts.

Required documents

  • Receipt of full tuition and language school registration fee payments
  • Invitation from the school (Form I-20)
  • SEVIS fee payment receipt (Form I-901) — 350 USD
  • Application for a non-immigrant visa (Form DS-160) — 160 USD
  • Receipt of the consular fee payment
  • Proof of financial solvency — 11,500 USD/year
  • International passport
  • 5x5 cm color photo
Working while taking language courses in the US

Full-time students who come to the US on an F-1 visa are allowed to work no more than 20 hours per week.
You will need a work permit, which is issued by the DSO department (Designated School Official). If a student stops attending language classes (more than 80%) or it turns out that he is working illegally, the I-20 form will be canceled, and the student will be asked to leave the United States as soon as possible.

Most popular language schools in the USA

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EC English Language

A large international language school. Specializes in teaching English. It has 45000 students from 125 countries. EC has branches in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, South Africa, and Malta. Among the partners are leading American universities: University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC), State University of New York at Fredonia, University of Hartford. You can enroll in these universities based on the results of the EC language exam, without the need for IELTS and TOEFL certificates.

You can study at this school according to the following programs:

  • General English
  • Semi-Intensive English
  • Intensive English
  • Academic
  • Exam
  • English in the City
  • English for Work
  • Club 30+

Read more

LSI Education

Founded in 1965 by a former army education officer who opened the first language school in London. Now it includes schools in Great Britain, Canada, USA, Malta, New Zealand, Australia, France, and Switzerland. Among those who accept certificates from this school are Adelphi University, California International Business University, University of Illinois at Chicago, and San Francisco State University.

At LSI, languages ​​are taught in an interactive way, with a strong focus on developing fluency skills. There are language schools in Boston, New York, San Diego, and San Francisco. LSI offers language exam preparation programs, general English at low and high intensity, individual programs, and professional courses (for work, business, and teaching).

More details

Best cities to study English in the USA

New York

Number of universities and colleges110
Average cost of living (food + housing)2,763 USD/month
  • Student Center. Most of the universities in New York are included in the list of 10-20 best universities in the country. Among them: Columbia University, Fordham University, New York University, The New School, The City University of New York.
  • Paradise for book lovers. There are about 100 public libraries in New York, which contain more books than you can read in a lifetime. The famous New York Public Library is also located here. You could see it in such films as Breakfast at Tiffany's, Spider-Man, The Day After Tomorrow, and Ghostbusters.
  • Easy to move around. It is unlikely that you will need personal transportation. New York has a well-developed public transportation system, and the subway operates around the clock. You can get to any part of the city at any time of the day.
  • Peace in the midst of madness. This is a lively, bustling metropolis that never falls asleep. However, it has over 180 public parks throughout the city. One of the most famous in the world is Central Park, the area of which is about 3 kilometers.


Number of universities and colleges58
Average cost of living (food + housing)1,567 USD/month
  • Motherland of American skyscrapers. Chicago did not receive the “city of skyscrapers" nickname by chance. It was here that the world's first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building, was built. Countless tall buildings are adjacent to numerous lakes and parks, which makes the city very harmonious and attractive.
  • City of events. Chicago is known as an international center for business, transportation, and culture (including art, theatre, food, and music). It regularly hosts jazz, blues, and gospel festivals.
  • Opportunities for career and business. Chicago has one of the highest GDP figures among cities in the world: over 709 USD million in 2020. The unemployment rate here is only 3.6%. Chicago is the headquarters of many of the world's leading companies, such as Archer Daniels, Boeing, and Exelon[2].
  • A giant film set. Escape and The Vampire Diaries were filmed here, as well as the films The Dark Knight, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Man of Steel, Batman Begins, The Sixth Sense, Ocean's Eleven, Spider-Man 2, and Mission Impossible.

Washington D.C.

Number of universities and colleges19
Average cost of living (food + housing)2,200 USD/month
  • Center for Politics and Business. This is the capital of the United States, so the most important decisions of the country are made here. Washington DC is home to the Capitol, the White House, the Supreme Court, along with the headquarters of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In addition, the offices of major international companies are located here: Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks, and Amazon. To study here is to be a witness of history.
  • Effective education system. Washington D.C. is home to numerous universities with outstanding histories and reputations, including Georgetown, American University, George Washington University, Howard University, Catholic University, and others.
  • One of the largest libraries in the world. The Library of Congress contains more than 160 million books and 860 kilometers of bookshelves, with 45000 reference books stored in the reading room alone.

Los Angeles

Number of universities24
Average cost of living (food + housing)2,170 USD/month
  • Multicultural center. Representatives of 140 countries live here. About a third of all city residents are immigrants. There is a friendly attitude towards foreigners and a positive, creative atmosphere.
  • Entertainment capital of the United States and tourism center. Los Angeles has a mild, subtropical Mediterranean climate. The sun shines so often here that it has been called "the city of flowers and sunlight." There are also many beaches and hundreds of attractions.
  • Useful and interesting option for vacation. Many language programs offer to combine education with tourism to the key attractions of the city (Disneyland, planetariums, art museums, and film studios).


Number of universities35
Average cost of living (food + housing)2,300 USD/month
  • Student capital. Here are the most famous and prestigious universities in the world: Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Yale University. Millions of dollars are invested in Boston’s universities, laboratories, and research centers.
  • Picturesque nature. Boston has many squares and parks, and in the spring and autumn you can see impressive landscapes. In the suburbs there are the beautiful beaches of Gloucester, where students like to spend their time.
  • Convenient city for pedestrians. Up to 15% of residents go to work and school by foot. This is a very high figure for the US. There is a well-developed public transportation system. The campuses can be reached by bus and subway.
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