Do you want to study in a city where the pulse of African ambition drives economic prosperity?  A pulse that energises and inspires young professionals and international students alike as they try to make their mark in the world?

Known as Jozi by the locals, Johannesburg is the largest city in Gauteng, South Africa’s wealthiest province. It is one of the top 40 biggest metropolitan areas in the world and seen by some as the economic gateway to the African continent.

But what exactly makes the beat of this city so amazing and will the concrete jungle suit your rhythm as you move towards achieving your goals?

The greatest benefit of studying English in Jozi is the opportunity to completely immerse yourself in the English language while you learn what it takes to survive in a competitive and fruitful environment. You’ll get to experience some of the best English schools in Africa and the locals will also show you what it means to work-hard and play-hard.

Let’s discover a bit about the city, list some English Language Schools you can investigate and help with some basic considerations to aid your planning around this important decision.

JHB Colours
All around the city you'll find traces of its history, the fight for freedom and the current rainbow nation - Image by Gregory Fullard on Unsplash

The Concrete Jungle of Wonders

The foundation of the city’s history is interestingly, also a glimpse into human history and it dates as far back as 3.5 million years ago. In Dec 1998, Dr. Ron Clark discovered the oldest, full skeleton of a prehistoric ape-man at the Sterkfontein Caves. The cradle of humankind is a significant archaeological discovery that lies just north west of the city.

Isn’t it exciting to think you can learn to speak English in what is known as the birthplace of humankind?

Since then we evolved, changed, and developed into the human race as it is today, but the need to become better will always remain as part of our human spirit. Many people still move to Johannesburg each year to follow their dreams.

If you move to Joburg, you will most certainly not be the first to make this risky and rewarding leap of faith.

This trend dates as far back to the 1880s when the first settlers moved to JHB in their search for fortune. The gold rush was the beginning of a thriving economic city, but once you get to know the city you’ll realise that economic activity is only one of its many interesting layers.

Johannesburg is also a city of wealth when it comes to cultural history and activities.

During apartheid the majority of South Africans were controlled and supressed by the apartheid regime. The release of Nelson Mandela in 1990 marked South Africa’s significant birth to democracy. A celebration of this freedom movement can be found all around Johannesburg in historical places like the Apartheid Museum, Mandela House Museum, Soweto and Constitutional Hill to only mention a few.

Jozi also offers some of the best shopping malls in Africa and if you are an adventure seeker you can visit Gold Reef City or opt-in for activities like off-road cycling, Bungee jumping or river rafting on the Vaal river.

If you have a love the arts, there are a multitude of theatres who offer the best shows on the continent. Joburg also has a wide selection of restaurants to suit any taste, offering world-class cuisine from across the globe.

Nelson Mandela Johannesburg
Nelson Mandela was one of the most popular and iconic global leaders in the world - Image by Gregory Fullard on Unsplash

Where to Study English

The best English course for you, will be one with a curriculum and certifications that match your personal study goals.

Do you want to study English so that you can comfortably converse or do you want to speak English like a native speaker? The level of English you want to achieve, together with the reasons why you need English studies will guide you in finding the right qualification.

English Schools and colleges are usually less formal and most of them have ESL (English Second Language) lessons for beginners. These courses will help you establish your reading skills, writing skills and comprehension skills while you practice to speak English with comfort.

Their approach is usually more hands-on with smaller classes, but be sure to check their accreditation and the associations they belong to. If they are registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) as a Private Higher Education Institution it means they have the right standard as set out by Government.

Planning to study English to enrol for graduate studies at a University is another reason why you might be investigating ESL programs. South African Universities all have their own admission requirements where they screen prospective students’ English capabilities against a South African matric certificate, or secondary school certificate. This means that international students might have to prove their English proficiency if they don’t come from an English speaking country.

English native speaker
An English ESOL tutor will be able to help you prepare for exams. Together you can create a customised study plan based on your needs and the required curriculum - Image by Alissa-de-leva on Unsplash

You can easily find the admission requirements on most university websites, alternatively speak to an academic advisor who will guide you towards the perfect path of study to fulfil admission requirements. You might have to prove your English proficiency by succeeding in an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language) exam.

Maybe you want a certification in English for professional reasons or because you want to become an English teacher?

English language training for executives is quite common in South Africa and it makes sense to look at some of the excellent choices available in this economically thriving city. Most English certifications will cover English grammar, tenses and verb usage, but if you plan to do intensive English studies we would recommend you consider TEFL studies.  These courses will equip future students with the English skills to teach English abroad and are usually more advanced and technical. That’s if you don’t prefer to study a BA degree at one of South Africa’s prestige Universities.

Here are a couple of colleges and universities to start your research for the perfect place to study English:

  • WITS language school is connected to the University of Witwatersrand and offers a wide variety of English language courses and focus areas. You can do a TEFL course or simply work on your English fluency and literacy for business and executive usage. They also provide language programs for interpretation if you have an interest in second language teaching.
  • IH Johannesburg or The Language Lab pride themselves in offering higher quality language courses at a more affordable price.
  • Essential English offer English as a Second Language Courses on a part-time basis. With various proficiency levels you can work your way from beginner all the way to advanced and their English classes will help you to learn English at your pace. You can enquire directly by emailing them about course dates.
  • ABC International has a systematic approach where they progress ESOL learners through 23 levels of English learning to ultimately achieve good English communication. They use a blended learning approach where you’ll get to combine classroom practice and online teaching.
  • English Access Gauteng is based in Sandton and offers EFL online bundles, EFL full-time studies and TEFL courses. A TEFL course are for those students that would like to teach English and find jobs abroad.
  • LETA's courses are aligned to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Their focus is upskilling people for the workplace and they offer corporate language courses, General English courses, Online Courses, TOEFL and IELTS exam preparations. This is an ideal option if you want to work on English fluency as a professional. They also offer soft skill courses that can help you advance your career.
Online English
Modern English Language Schools like to approach their curriculum with a blended learning approach - Image by Shotkitimages from Pixabay

Getting Ready for Johannesburg

Like any buzzing city, Jozi can be an unsettling experience if you are from a small village or a country where they barely speak English. Our best advice is that you arrive completely prepared by doing all the foundational research.

Ask all the necessary questions to establish where you will live, the transport you'll use and visa requirements before arriving. Most colleges can provide guidance around accommodation options and it’s easy to research the cost of living online.

Research everything you need to know to make you feel safe and sound.

Compare tutors online

Finding a tutor to help you with basic English language skills before you arrive will make the transition easier, plus you'll be able to find your way around on arrival - Image by Foundry Co from PixabayIt will be great if you know someone in South Africa to show you the ropes, but if you don’t know anyone, you’ll need a basic understanding of English to get around. You can start basic English lessons today with a tutor in Johannesburg.

A local ESL teacher will provide lessons online and once you move to JHB you’ll not only have a basic understanding of the language, you’ll also be able to continue your studies with the tutor to make the most of your studies.

Finding the best ESL teachers is easy on Superprof as you can browse their experience and rates online before committing to any classes. You can also benefit from a free trial class with most tutors.

Are you ready to set your sights on the iconic skyline of the Johannesburg CBD? People who move to Johannesburg to build their dreams, be it through a new job or to study, are blown away by the fast-moving vigour in which every person continues to work, study and play.

We hope that you feel encouraged and invigorated to complete your English studies in the thriving hub of Africa. That is, if you have the ambitious energy that’s a match for the city of Gold?!

Need an ESOL (English) teacher?

Enjoyed this article?

5.00/5 - 1 vote(s)


Writer and qualified yoga instructor, who is passionate about health and well-being.