English Courses in Chicago

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English Courses in Chicago

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

Chicago stands out for studying English over other cities in The United States, mainly because of its wonderful tourist attractions, particular cuisine, and fantastic English language schools and institute. There you'll live an amazing experience learning English, while making new friends, and putting your skills into practice while you explore this awesome city. And if you feel like there's nothing else to see apart from its great museums, parks and buildings, you can also visit New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, or Minneapolis.

The city of Chicago 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 Chicago, Illinois?
  • What is the best English language course in Chicago?
  • How can I study English in Chicago?
  • English programs near Chicago?
  • Cheap and good English courses in Chicago?

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 Chicago, USA.

1. Best places to learn English in Chicago, USA

English courses as a second language in top universities and institutions

Chicago stands out for studying English over other cities, mainly because of its wonderful tourist attractions, particular cuisine, and fantastic English language schools and institute. There you'll live an amazing experience learning English, while making new friends, and putting your skills into practice while you explore this awesome city. And if you feel like there's nothing else to see apart from its great museums, parks and buildings, you can also visit New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, or Minneapolis.

In Chicago and surroundings we can find the following places:

  • Downtown Chicago
  • West Loop
  • Bridgeport
  • North Loop
  • East Loop
  • Bridgeport
  • Bucktown
  • Uptown
  • Hyde Park
  • Old Town
  • Streeterille
  • The Magnificent Mile
  • Pilsen
  • River North
  • Wicker Park
  • Wrigleyville
  • Roscoe Village
  • University Village
  • Little Italy
  • Lincoln Park
  • Beverly
  • Andersonville
  • Logan Square
  • River Forest

List of English Language Schools in Chicago:


One of the best destination for international students in the USA


Chicago has a wide and high-quality selection of institutions where you can improve your English skills and become familiar with the language.



The universities and English language institutes offer facilities and services, such as sports facilities, extracurricular activities, advising, etc.



Chicago offers possibilities to improve your English on and off the campus while you keep learning in the classroom every day.



You will be able to have networking opportunities by meeting new people, while you continue improving your English proficiency.



You can try Chicago’s most popular and delightful dishes, such as the deep-dish pizza, the burrito in a bag, and Chicago’s hot dog.



Chicago has a privileged location in the USA, near the Canadian border, and near other famous cities such as Detroit, Minneapolis, New York and Philadelphia, so you will have lots of places to visit.



Chicago has everything you need to enjoy this awesome experience: parks, beaches, museums, entertaining activities, and world-class higher education institutions.

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

Some programs can have their own special requirements

Visa requirements

If you take an intensive English language course (18+ hours a week), you have to obtain an F1 student visa, for which you apply by presenting the I-20 Form that the university that you selected will send with the admission letter. Nonetheless, if you choose a part-time course (less than 18 hours a week), you can enroll with a tourist visa.

Age Requirements

The minimum age limit will be different depending on the university or English institution, but usually it is between 16 and 18 years old, as most of these courses are designed for adult students.

Proof of Sufficient Funds

To be eligible for a student visa, you must prove you have enough funds to cover the program’s fees and your living expenses. The amount of money you will need to prove you have will depend on the institution and English language program you select. It is necessary to consider that the funds must be in your bank account or in an account belonging to your sponsor, who could be a family member.

Minimum English Language Level

Normally, students of ESL require a minimum English level, which considers understanding and being able to say simple sentences; and ask and answer simple questions, because you will arrive in an English-speaking city and you will need to adapt to your environment. Courses are usually offered from the basic to the advanced level, and your current proficiency will be determined with a placement test once you arrive. However, other courses do require a minimum English level, which is normally verified with a TOEFL or IETLS test score.

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

Explanation about main costs

Prices and dates for ESL courses in Chicago will depend on the institution you chose and how many hours a week you will study.

Keep in mind the fact that some universities and ESL institutions include other items on the final course fee. Some extra items that you might need to consider are housing costs, health insurance, course books and supplies, extracurricular events, etc.

Studying English as a Second Language in Chicago involves some expenses that you have to take into account. Consider that the details below are just estimates, and the final fee will depend on the program and the university you choose. Nevertheless, you can use this price list as a guide to calculate how much money you will need to study English abroad.

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

ENGLISH PROGRAMThe cost depends on which English program you choose (intensive or part-time, for how long, for how many hours a week, etc.).
HEALTH INSURANCESome universities or English language institutes offer to include health insurance costs in the final price, with fees starting at around $130 USD a month, while others recommend some health insurance providers you can choose from. F-1 Student Visa holders must have health insurance.
BOOKSThe cost of books and supplies depend on the institution where you will study. Prices are around $100 USD.
HOUSINGSome English language institutions have dormitory housing on campus, with prices starting at around $700 USD per month. Off campus options include homestay (living with a local family) with prices starting at $800 USD per month, or renting a private apartment, with prices starting at $900 USD a month for a studio apartment.
FOODSome housing or homestay options include meal plans which can range from basic to more elaborated options. Prices will vary depending on housing option, how many meals a day, and how many days a week.
VISAThe price of the student visa plus the I-901 SEVIS fee is $160 + $350 USD respectively, and the cost is mandatory for students who enroll on intensive courses.
TRANSPORTATIONChicago offers different means of transportation, such as bus services, bikes, taxicabs, water taxis and rail services. The cost depends on the time of day and distance you travel.
FLIGHT TICKETSThe cost depends on where you begin your travel, if you are flying on peak or off season, and the class you choose. The most expensive prices are usually before Christmas and after New Year. In between you can find offers.

6. Who studies English in Chicago, USA?

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

The students who enroll on these English as a Second Language courses come from all places in the world. Their motivation is mainly the opportunity to improve their academic or professional career. Normally, these students have already taken English language lessons in their countries, but do not speak the language in their daily living, so they did not progress as they expected, and choose to study in Chicago.

Young Students

These students tend to be people who are currently studying in school or college and generally enroll during their summer or winter recess in Chicago. They are normally looking to improve their English skills for an academic or recreational purpose.

Young Professionals

Young professionals tend to be people who already graduated from a higher-education institution and do not have many years of work experience. They are usually looking to learn and practice their English skills in Chicago to obtain a better employment or enter a postgraduate program.

Senior Professionals

These professionals are people with many years of working experience and that normally hold senior positions in their workplace, but have realized that their current English level is not enough to interact with other professionals at an international level. They ask for leave of absence, others resign, while others use the time between jobs by taking an English course in Chicago.


They are permanent American residents or temporal residents, who are normally accompanying people who have been transferred to Chicago, in the U.S . These students are looking to improve their English language proficiency with the aim of communicating in their everyday life and understanding American TV shows and news media.

7. Photos about studying English in Chicago, USA

Look some of the photos of the ESL programs
students from English language program visiting downtown of Chicago
international students biking in Chicago
students from English class attending a basketball game of Chicago Bulls

8. Videos about studying English in Chicago, USA

Click to watch the videos

9. Information about Chicago, USA

The city of Chicago is located in northeastern Illinois, on the southwestern shores of the Lake Michigan. It is estimated that more than 2.8 million people live there, which makes it the most populated city in the state of Illinois and the third one in all of the U.S.

Chicago is renowned for its unique dishes, such as the Chicago hot dog, sushi burrito, taco in a bag and its world-famous deep-dish pizza. Their passion for food is so strong that there are numerous food challenges around the city, with great prizes for the winner, such as free food, gift cards, merchandising, your picture on the wall of fame, etc. However, keep in mind that, if you lose the challenge, you will have to pay the full bill. If you are looking for a quiet place to enjoy delicious food, dinner cruises are a great option. There you can experience a wonderful view while you enjoy delectable dishes over Lake Michigan.

This city has marvelous places where you can go, such as the famous Willis Tower, which has the Skydeck, a glass ledge in the 103rd floor, so you can feel you are walking above the city; you can walk around the Chicago Park and Boulevard System, also known as Chicago Emerald Necklace, where many parks are connected by boulevards that pass through city’s north, east and south. Walk across the Grant park, a large 329-acre urban park, and its most notable features are Buckingham Fountain, the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum Campus, and Millennium Park. This last one is very famous for its accessibility, green design, the Crown Fountain and the Cloud Gate, also known as Chicago Bean.

Chicago has festivals and events throughout the year, such as the magnificent Mile Light Festival, Drink Beer in Church at Oktoberfest, Jazz Fest and Chicago Illumination. If you want to visit fun destinations, you cannot miss sports bars, ax-throwing bars, indoor skydiving, the Chicago Magic Lounge (where guests enter through a laundry to the theater), weird tours to know the other side of the city, and last but not least, Chicago’s coastline full of sandy beaches, such as North Avenue Beach.

10. Frequently Asked Questions about studying English in Chicago

Can I travel only with an ESTA permit and study a full-time intensive program if my country has an agreement with the U.S.?

Even if your country has an ESTA agreement, the intensive program (18+ hours a week) requires a F-1 student visa, is for that reason it is mandatory to apply for the visa. However, you can take a part-time English program (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 Chicago?

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 (18 hrs/week or less) 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/

Is there an age limit to enroll on ESL courses in Chicago?

Depending on the university or English institution, the minimum age limit will be between 16 and 18 years old. However, there is no maximum age limit.

Which is the best university or institution to enroll in an ESL course?

Above in this same page you can see the best English language institutions; therefore, you can select the one that matches your needs and goals.

Can I apply for a scholarship if I enroll in an intensive or part-time course?

Sadly, universities and institutions do not offer scholarships for English languages programs. Nevertheless, some institutions offer price discounts for international students.

Can I work and study at the same time while I am taking an ESL program?

You can work on the university campus 20 hours at most per week, but unfortunately, the institutions reserve these jobs for degree students, so English language students may not have many opportunities. Furthermore, the ESL schedule does not allow you to have many free hours to work on campus.

What payment methods are available for ESL programs?

The payment process varies according to the university or English center you choose. Normally, the institutions ask for an initial fee of around $180 USD, and in some cases, this cost covers the shipping cost of the documents you will need to apply for the student visa. The course cost is usually paid once you arrive at the institution or a couple of weeks before, and the payment method is preferably credit card.

What is the recommended amount of money that I need for my entire stay in Chicago?

There is not a fixed amount of money, but it is recommended that you make an estimated cost sheet with the English institution fee and the extra items. It is important for you to have a cash cushion, in case on any emergency, so you are not caught by surprise.

Which is the best neighborhood for living?

Every neighborhood has its own attributes, so none is better than the other. Some people could love and think they are living in the best neighborhood, while others may think otherwise. That is why the choice is up to you: depending on your lifestyle, if you want a quieter neighborhood, entertainment areas or a place near the university campus.

11. Testimonials of international students

I was amazed with Chicago! Being there for 4 months, which was the time I was studying English, allowed me to enjoy the entire city. With my classmates spent a lot of time in the places where tourists go but we did it more calmly. We interacted with people in the stores and restaurants, and I think all these things helped my English improve quickly. My favorite places are Millennium Park, Grant Park, and Navy Pier. It is a city of large buildings and public transportation is great, so it was easy for me to move from one place to another. Chicago is now my list of favorite cities, and I recommend everyone to study English in this city.

Hiroki K.

Profile Image Testimony 1 Chicago

The English courses I took in Chicago were the solution for me to finally achieve an advanced level of English. I love big and modern cities and that's why I chose Chicago to study English. My favorite parts were lake Michigan and all the parks in the city. I got to go to an NBA game and see the Chicago Bulls and the food in Chicago is the best. We went to many places in the city, and not only to the touristic attractions like the Cloud Gate bean or the Skyline. The personality of Chicago is incredible and you will only get to know it if you live there, because as a tourist it is difficult to experience everything that this city offers you. I was only 6 months studying English in Chicago and it was the perfect time for me to go from a high beginner level to an advanced level.

Carlos P.

Profile Image Testimony 2 Chicago

12. Benefits of studying English in Chicago

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.

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