Live like a local: Immerse yourself in English on your Chester adventure

One of the lock gates on the Shropshire Union Canal which flows through Chester.

When you are studying the English language it’s crucial that you receive the best possible input during your classes - something that ELC Chester has been providing to international students for many years via our professional, knowledgeable teaching staff and choice of six comprehensive English courses.

Last modified on
Photo of Phil Hopkins

But what is often overlooked is the importance of location - where you study, and what the location offers you as an English language student. If you are looking for English language immersion where you fully absorb the culture, experience life as if you are a local, and greatly increase your chances of success with the language, the historic cathedral city of Chester is a wonderful place to call home while you study with ELC.

How does learning English in a historic city like Chester enhance the learning experience?

When you decide to learn English in Chester, not only will you be undertaking one of our intensive English language courses, you will be living and learning in one of the UK’s most welcoming, safe and uniquely historical small cities.

Located in the northwest of England, Chester was originally the Deva Victrix Roman legionary fort, and two centuries later offers an amazing blend of the historic and the new, from the oldest and most complete Roman walls in the UK to bustling nightlife, contemporary shopping at The Rows, and a raft of things to see and do.

Chester Town Centre Signs

Chester positively oozes English charm, with amazing riches in its mix of architecture, and has an almost unparalleled depth of history and unique sense of Englishness that you cannot fail to want to learn more about - and be inspired by - when you live and study here.

Surrounded by the beautiful rolling greenery of the county of Cheshire, the city is perfectly located for trips to the Peak District, North Wales, the Pennines, the Lake District and the larger cities of Manchester and Liverpool. Even London is a train or coach ride away - but Chester offers as much as its bigger, noisier neighbours often at far less cost!

Is Chester a safe city for international students?

If you’re concerned about personal safety there’s no need to worry - the city of Chester is consistently near the top of the list of safest cities in the UK. Crime levels are very low, and the population’s fear of crime is also low to very low - while people feel very safe walking around during the day and into the night.

As an international student you will have very little to be concerned about other than the overwhelming choice of bars and shops! Chester is a friendly and welcoming small UK city, and has repeatedly achieved purple flag status since 2018 for its successes in providing a lively, diverse night time economy while ensuring the safety of both visitors and residents.

Local businesses have also teamed up with the University of Chester to further improve student safety in the city, with increased street lighting, extra CCTV cameras, and the introduction of the Hollie Guard smartphone app which provides enhanced levels of protection for students studying English in Chester UK.

How can I create opportunities to speak English with native speakers outside of class?

Immersing yourself in the history and culture of Chester is a surefire way to help improve your grasp of the English language, and there are plenty of ways to interact with native speakers when you are away from your ELC English lessons:

  • Shopping - Chester is as packed with shops as any other major cosmopolitan city in the UK, especially in the commercial area of The Rows. Use them to browse and speak with staff, practising your English as you go from store to store. Discuss local brands, seasonal sales and prices with your classmates during shopping trips.

  • Nightlife - Chester is a university city, so has a very lively night time economy with a huge choice of bars and clubs. Go out, dance and mingle, and chat all night with the native speakers you meet.

  • Restaurants and cafes - go out to eat! Chester has everything from French bistro dining to McDonald’s. Order a fine meal, or a cake, or just an ice cream! If you go and eat when it’s quieter - early evening is a good time - you might get talking to the staff, and at any time you can ask their opinions on menu options and the most popular dishes. Listen in to the conversations happening around you. See if you can hear new language. Make a note of new words and phrases in English, look them up later online, then try and include them in your own conversations.

Chester Afternoon Tea
  • Our social programme - ELC Chester offers a broad choice of weekly activities that are designed to complement your studies and boost your English language skills. Various trips and events are available to you, such as Conversation Clubs, city walks and even afternoon cream tea (a delicious UK treat!) which gives you excellent opportunities to meet and talk with locals.

  • Walking and sightseeing tours - designed for tourists, these trips can also be extremely helpful to students learning English. Chester offers a great choice of tours, from guided walking afternoons to river cruises and even The Dark Chester tour where you will learn about the city’s sometimes troubled history! All these tours provide you with the chance to learn a lot more about Chester’s past, culture and architecture, while providing an excellent opportunity to listen to the locals and brush up on your English language skills.

  • Day trips to local cities - Chester has fantastic travel links and a visit to the larger metropolises of Manchester and Liverpool (or even the UK capital London) means you can lose yourself amongst the locals, listen to the way they use the language, and boost your English knowledge - all while enjoying a terrific day out!

What are some things to see and do in Chester?

For such a compact city, Chester has a surprisingly large amount of freetime activities and places of interest to keep you occupied and entertained for the duration of your studies at ELC.

  • Clubbing - during term time Chester is packed with club nights, with a massive amount of places to go for students in the city. Whatever your favourite - dancing at the ever-popular Rosies, chilled cocktails at Popcorn or just a relaxed comedy gig at Alexander’s - Chester has them all.

  • Cycling - Chester is incredibly bicycle friendly, with a number of routes you can use to get around and enjoy this fabulous city. The Chester Millennium Greenway is the most famous, a 10 mile route through the heart of the city runs close to the 13th century cathedral.

  • Roman walls, amphitheatre and other archeological sites - Chester has a stunning amount of historic architecture that dates back to Roman, Medieval and Tudor times, including the amazing walkable defensive walls, the largest uncovered Roman amphitheatre in the UK, and the city centre’s imposing black and whitewashed half-timbered buildings. Take a guided tour to learn more whilst brushing up your listening comprehension.

Chester Town Centre Main Street
  • Chester Rows - the four main central streets (‘The Cross’) of Chester are home to The Rows, a 700 year old clutch of multi-storey terraced galleries in the aforementioned black-and-white Tudor style. They are now home to numerous stores, the Grosvenor Shopping Centre, cafes, restaurants and businesses, with the pedestrianised and covered walkways making them extremely popular with visitors and residents.

  • Eastgate and the Eastgate Clock - iconic and amazing, the Eastgate Clock sits atop the Eastgate of the city’s Roman walls, and reminds visitors of the richness of Chester’s history and architecture.

  • Chester Zoo - the most visited UK tourist attraction outside London, Chester Zoo is a sprawling home to 500 different animal species in award-winning zoological gardens. It’s a must-see.

  • The cathedral - a Grade I listed building, the Romanesque, Gothic cathedral is a huge attraction in the city, with a cavernous interior and seven spectacular stained glass windows. It is both a cultural and spiritual hub, and a magnet for tourists and residents alike.

  • Further afield - hop on a bus or train and travel to North Wales for the day, or the Lake District for a weekend of socialising and practising your command of English, or how about a few nights clubbing in Manchester? Chester is perfectly placed to use as a base to explore everything the surrounding area has to offer.

How easy is it to get around Chester by public transport?

Chester is compact and easy to navigate - a popular pastime is walking the Chester City Walls walkway, a distance of 2 miles around the city’s outskirts and which takes only forty minutes on foot.

Despite its relatively small size, Chester’s public transport offers an impressively wide choice of ways for you to get around the city, explore the surrounding area, and even travel further afield for day out with friends:

  • Taxis are plentiful, catering for everything from shopping trips to airport runs (Manchester and Liverpool airports are 45 to 60 minutes away, depending on traffic) to group journeys that include wheelchair friendly minibuses. The city provides both 24 hour cab services, along with a smaller number of evening and night time taxi ranks.

  • Bus - Chester provides dozens of buses and routes, from coaches to surrounding places such as Warrington and Rhyl in North Wales, while the intra-city service is excellent, allowing you to get around with no fuss and for significantly less cost than if you were in Manchester or London.

  • Trains - more than half a dozen companies run train services in Chester and surrounding Cheshire, allowing you the chance to travel and explore cities such as London and Liverpool. Chester’s main train station is a short walk from the city centre, and a stone’s throw from its wonderful medieval Cathedral.

Chester from above
  • iTravel - this is an on-demand bus service specifically for residents and groups of residents to arrange public transport via online, telephone or smartphone app. Routes and times are not fixed, meaning you can get around to wherever you want at the time you want.

  • Car hire is widely available in Chester, as you would expect with a modern UK city - several global brands (such as Europcar) operate in the city, meaning you can rent a vehicle for day trips or weekends away during downtime from your studies at ELC Chester.

  • Park and Ride services are also dotted around the city, so if you have friends or family visiting they can park vehicles on Chester’s outskirts and venture into the centre on one of the many train routes available.

At ELC Chester we are immensely proud to call the city our home. Learn more about our range of English courses in Chester at our elegant redbrick buildings in Stanley Place, or contact us with any queries you may have about our school, our courses, or the city.