English Courses in California

  • Home
  • > USA
  • > English Language Courses in California



English Courses in California

California is one of the top destinations for learning and studying English as a second language (ESL). The state of California has several English language schools, institutes, and prestigious universities that offer English classes.

California stands out for studying English over other states in the The United States, mainly for its beautiful nature, wonderful beaches and its close connection to the seaside culture. It is one of the most important states in terms of both population and economic revenue, and due to its location, it enjoys pleasant weather throughout the whole year. Some of things you can experience in California are: beautiful beaches, world-class higher education institutions, an exciting city life and breathtaking natural destinations.

The state of California has English programs for all ages and budgets. We suggest that you read this page and click on each language school you think is a good option. All universities and language institutes listed here offer English programs that allow you to apply for a student visa. Most of the programs are also available for citizens and residents in full-time or part-time options.

The most common programs are "General English" or "Academic English Programs", which allow you to improve your English level for academic or professional purposes.

Common questions

  • Where to study English in California?
  • What is the best English language course in California?
  • What is the best city in California to study English?
  • Cheap and good English courses in California?

You will find the answer to these questions on this website and a complete list of English language schools available for international students and residents. Click on the specific language school or university to get more information. You will find more details about the programs on those pages, helpful resources, and tips as housing, reviews, comments, and testimonials. As a leading world agency in ViveCampus, we can guide you in all the steps to study English in California, USA.

1. Best places to learn English in California, USA

English courses as a second language in top universities and institutions

California is renowned for its beautiful nature, wonderful beaches and its close connection to the seaside culture. It is one of the most important states in terms of both population and economic revenue, and due to its location, it enjoys pleasant weather throughout the whole year. Some of things you can experience in California are: beautiful beaches, world-class higher education institutions, an exciting city life and breathtaking natural destinations.

The main cities in California are:

List of English Language Schools in California:


One of the best destination for international students in the USA


There is a wide selection of world-class universities and language schools where you can improve your skills and learn English as a Second Language (ESL).



Universities and schools in California offer marvelous facilities and services to their students, including sports facilities, extracurricular activities, student clubs, visits to local tourist locations, among others.



California offers an immense amount of possibilities to improve your English outside the classroom, while you have fun in exciting activities.



While you improve your English proficiency in California, you will also be able to meet new people and have numerous networking opportunities that will prove useful for your professional career.



California is a really diverse state, with a population made up of people from all over the world, particularly Latin America and Asia, which contributes to a very rich culture and a great experience for people visiting from abroad.



This state has a perfect mixture of exciting and fun urban life and great outdoor activities, with innumerable beaches, national parks and forests you can visit in your spare time.



The Golden State has everything you need to enjoy an unforgettable experience: theme parks, beaches, forests, parks, mountains, museums, architecture, and world-class higher education institutions.

4. Requirements to take an English Course in California, USA

Some programs can have their own special requirements

Visa Requirements

If you wish to study an intensive English language course in California (those consisting of 18+ hours a week), you must have an F-1 student visa, for which you will need an I-20 form that the institution you chose will send along with the acceptation letter. You can also study a part-time course of less than 18 hours a week with a tourist visa or an ESTA. You can learn more about the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) by visiting this website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/.

Age Requirements

Since most of these English programs are aimed at adult students, universities and language institutions will have a minimum age limit of between 16 and 18 years old. On the contrary, there is no maximum age, so no matter your age, you can always begin learning a new language. Younger students can also look for special courses designed especially for them, such as winter or summer camps.

Proof of Sufficient Funds

To be eligible for a student visa, you must provide proof of sufficient funds to cover the school fees and your own personal expenses. This amount will depend on the English language institution you choose, and the funds must be on your bank account or on an account belonging to a sponsor, which can be a relative, a friend, your company or even a governmental institution.

Minimum English Language Level

Several of these English language courses do not require a minimum level of English, as they are offered in all levels, including the basic/beginner/elementary level. What level of proficiency you have, will be assessed with a placement test upon your arrival. However, other programs do require a minimum level of English proficiency, which is sometimes proved with a TOEFL or IELTS test.

5. Prices, dates and costs of English courses in California 2024 - 2025

Explanation about main costs

Prices and dates for these English language courses in California depend mostly on the city and the institution where you are planning to study, the methodology and for how many hours each week you will be studying.

For a better understanding, you must take into account the fact that some universities and English language institutions include other items directly on the final course fee. Some extra items are: accommodation, health insurance, facilities usage, activities, events, class materials, etc.

While studying English in California, there are some associated costs you must take into consideration. The details below are just estimates, and these will depend on the program, the institution and its location, but you can use it as a guide to calculate how much you will need in order to study English abroad.

Main costs to consider if you want to study in California, USA

ENGLISH PROGRAMIt depends on which institution and course you choose, and for how long you plan to study, as well as for how many hours per week.
HEALTH INSURANCESome institutions include the health insurance cost in the course fee, while others consider it as a separate expense. The price usually starts at $100 USD a month. Keep in mind that F-1 visa students must have health insurance.
BOOKSThe cost of class materials will depend on each institution, but the average price per English level should be around $100 USD.
HOUSINGIt depends on the area and the kind of accommodation. The cost for housing tends to go from $700 to $1600 USD per month for a single room.
FOODIn some cases, accommodation options can include food on the final fee, while in others, universities offer meal plans you can buy to eat on campus. You should set aside at least $600 USD per month for food costs.
VISABoth the F-1 Student and Tourist Visa include a USD $160 application fee. For the F-1 Visa you should also consider a USD $350 I-901 SEVIS registration fee. Finally, the ESTA has a total price of USD $14, divided in an application and an authorization fee. You should also consider a courier fee in case the school has to send you documents by express mail.
TRANSPORTATIONThis cost purely depends on how far you live from school. Our advice is to live as close as possible, so walking, biking or going by public transport can be an option. This as renting or buying a car on your own can be really expensive, especially if you are already on a budget.
FLIGHT TICKETSThis depends on the route you are flying, the dates and the class you choose. We recommend you to check quoting websites where you can see ticket prices for several airlines at a time. As a side note, the most expensive dates are near Christmas and New Year's Eve. In between you can find offers.

6. Who study English in California, USA?

Students come from all over the world to learn English in California

People who enroll on these English programs in California come from all places in the world. A main motivator is enhancing their academic and/or professional career by improving their English proficiency. Normally, these students have already taken English language lessons in their countries, but a familiar context where English is not normally spoken hinders their progress; and therefore, they do not reach a high level of proficiency.

Young Students

They usually enroll to study in California during summer or winter vacations and in most cases, they are looking to improve their English for academic purposes.

Young Professionals

These tend to be people who have recently graduated from a higher-education institution and/or only have a few years of working experience. The two main reasons for taking an English course in California are either entering a graduate program or obtaining a better job position.

Senior Professionals

These are professionals with several years of experience, usually in senior positions, who have realized they need a better understanding of English in order to be able to communicate. They usually ask for a leave of absence, others resign, and others wish to use their time between jobs in a useful way by taking an English course in California.


They are either permanent American residents or temporal residents who are companions of people who were transferred to California, in the U.S. These students wish to improve their English proficiency for communication, finding better jobs, understanding American media, navigate throughout everyday life, etc.

7. Photos about studying English in California, USA

Look some of the photos of the ESL programs
students english course in california biking in San Francisco
international students from English Language Program of California in Los Angeles
studentes from the English class surfing in California

8. Videos about studying English in California, USA

Click to watch the videos

9. Information about California, USA

The State of California, also known as the Golden State, is the most populated state in the U.S., the third biggest in terms of total area, and is located right next to the Pacific Ocean, in the west coast. It is world famous for its technologic innovation, its film industry, its agricultural exportations, fascinating tourist attractions and breathtaking landscapes.

Historically, it was a Spanish and later Mexican territory, and this influence can be easily spotted around this state. From its colonial architecture to the name of many of its cities, California has been greatly influenced by foreign culture. This area was first explored and mapped by Spanish explorers during the 16th and 17th centuries, and later many towns were established, which later became San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Jose. During the 19th century California became an American territory and was officially accepted into the Union in 1850.

A series of economic booms later, it became one of the biggest economies within the states and around the globe, as its film and technologic industries are one of the most important in the world. Of course, it also became a top tourist spot, with people coming from all over the planet to spend their holidays at this beautiful west-coast state.

The Los Angeles metropolitan area is the biggest one in terms of population and the city of Sacramento is the state capital. Other important cities are San Francisco, San Diego, San José, Berkeley, Irvine, Palo Alto, Santa Barbara, among others.

Some of the most famous tourist attractions in the Golden State are:

  • The Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay area
  • The Alcatraz Prison
  • The Yosemite National Park
  • Disneyland in Anaheim
  • Lake Tahoe
  • The Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
  • The Redwood National Park
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Universal Studies California
  • SeaWorld San Diego
  • Balboa Park in San Diego
  • And of course, its numerous beaches, such as Huntington State Beach, Santa Monica Beach, Crystal Cove State Park, Dog Beach in San Diego, among others.

10. Frequently Asked Questions about studying English in California

Can I travel only with an ESTA permit for a full-time intensive program if my country has an agreement?

Even if you belong to a country that has an ESTA permit agreement with the United States, a full-time intensive program (18+ hours a week) requires an F-1 student visa. It is for this reason that you still need an F-1 student visa to take an intensive English program. Nevertheless, you can enroll on a part-time English course (less than 18 hours a week) with an ESTA permit or tourist visa.

Which are the different steps of the application process for the F-1 student visa to study an English program in California?

Please check with us what type of visa you need to take the program you are interested in.

  • All full-time programs in the U.S. require a F-1 student Visa. With an F-1 visa, you can extend your stay in the United States as long as you continue studying.
  • Part-time programs (less than 18 hours a week) can be taken with a tourist visa or visa waiver ESTA. With a tourist visa, you can only stay in the U.S. the duration your tourist visa allows, since your main purpose in the U.S. should be tourism.

If you need an F-1 student visa, please apply as soon as you receive your acceptance documents (I-20 form) from the English school. In some countries it can take several weeks to obtain a visa interview at the U.S. embassy.

You must confirm these steps on the website of the U.S. embassy in your country. You can look for your nearest U.S. embassy here: https://www.usembassy.gov/

Which accommodation options are there in California?

In most cases, housing comes separated from the English course, although you may be offered housing inside campus, particularly during the summer season. Other popular options among students are sharing furnished apartments or living with local families in what is call a homestay. The institution you apply to will give you information regarding the different options you can choose.

Can I work and study at the same time in California?

You are allowed to work for 20 hours a week max. inside campus if you are enrolled on an intensive English course in California, although in reality, the job availability will depend on the university, as most of these job openings are reserved for regular graduate and undergraduate students.

Which is the best city to study English in California?

There is no right answer for this question, as cities around California are completely different one from another. That is why we recommend you to look for a city where you can feel comfortable. Universities and English language schools offer programs in both big and small cities, so you can also choose the size of the university and city where you wish to study. You can check the city availability on this same website.

Where can I study English courses in California?

There are universities, institutes and schools all over the state, so you can always check this website and see for yourself which city appeals to your needs and goals.

Which is the best university or language institute to study English in California?

There are several universities and institutes that offer high-quality English courses, so it is up to you to choose the one that best suits your needs and goals, in terms of contents and school location. You can always check on this same website all available schools.

Do universities offer scholarships to study English in California?

There are no scholarships for these courses. However, some language institutions and schools offer discounted prices for international students.

What payment methods are available for these English courses?

The payment process is different depending on the English language center. The most common case is for the institution to ask for an initial fee of around $200 USD to start the application process, which will include the shipping costs for the documentation you need to apply for the visa. Any remaining fees are usually paid upon arriving the institution and the preferred payment method is credit card.

Do I need to be currently studying back in my country to apply to an English course or program in California?

No, as anyone can apply to these ESL courses, and there is no need for you to be currently a student. That is why among applicants there are high school or college students, full-time employees, freelance professionals, and even people who are taking time off between jobs to improve their CV’s.

Is there an age limit to apply for an English course in California?

Since these English programs are aimed at adult students, universities and language institutions have a minimum age limit of between 16 and 18 years old, but no maximum age whatsoever, so it is never too late to begin learning a new language. However, both universities and schools offer special courses for children and teenagers, in which contents and extracurricular activities are planned to fit their age and interests, so they can make the best out of their experience abroad.

11. Testimonials of international students

I chose to study in California because my idea was to learn English and have a complete life experience, and I knew that I was going to have a good time in California which is a paradise. The good weather, the beaches, the visits to the national parks, Disneyland, Universal Studios, and the cultural and life experience I had was the best. I toured the entire state and went to San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, as well as Los Angeles. I also went a couple of times to Las Vegas which was close by. I highly recommend that you go to California to study English, plus the English language accent used in California is easily recognized around the world.

Arturo R.

Profile Image Testimony 1 California

I did an extensive research before deciding where to learn English and finally decided that I wanted to go to California. The quality of the universities is the best and the climate is good all year round. I had always wanted to go on vacation to CA but finally I went to study English. I loved California, especially its beaches in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. I was able to balance my studies with sports, and the sports culture there is the best I've seen. I got to play beach volleyball every weekend and it helped me meet people to practice my English as well. Without a doubt the best thing that has happened to me in life was to go to California.

Márcia S.

Profile Image Testimony 2 california

12. Benefits of studying English in California

In the global world we live in, mastering the English language and having experience abroad is highly valued by companies and employers.

But the benefits are not only professional, as people who study abroad develop valuable skills such as competence in a new language, cultural exposure, tolerance, adaptability, leadership, and independence. All these skills are directly fostered by learning and living abroad.

Click on the screen to watch the video
Representative of ViveCampus - Help for international students


You can write the message in your language

Get a Quote / Contact Us

To request a quote, please complete the following form. If you don't know the dates yet, please provide an estimate.

Example: John
Example: Smith
Example: john.smith@gmail.com
Example: john.smith@gmail.com
Example: 16, 24
To guide you in a better way, tell us a little more. Who is the course for, the student's age, why did you choose this place, etc.

Give us a Call

+1 310 341 4337