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Hilderstone College - Intensive English

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Need help? Take a look at some of our most Frequently Asked Questions.

How can I improve my English?

Practice is important for all learning. You will improve the skills you practise. For example, if you watch films or listen to the radio in English, you will improve your listening skills. If you read books in English, your reading will improve. Many students have joined our classes and improved their speaking, writing, listening and reading skills. Our teachers work very hard to make sure the students in their class learn to the best of their ability. Our Multi-Media Learning Centre offers a wide range of resources for working outside of class times, plus social activities and our carefully chosen homestay hosts give students further practice opportunities in a friendly and relaxed environment.


How can I speak English better?

If you don’t live in an English speaking country, it can be difficult to practise your English. Why not join one of our online English classes? Worried about online learning being boring and passive? Not with us, the feedback on our online classes is fantastic!

How can I pass IELTS?

Exams make many students nervous. Luckily, IELTS is not a pass/fail exam because everyone takes the same exam and the result they get shows their level of English - from Beginner to Advanced!

If you want to feel more confident and learn about what you need to do in the exam to get the score you want, join one of our preparation courses. In the last year we have had a number of students who scored 7, 7.5 and 8 overall.

We can help you get the score you deserve.

I need English for my job - how can I learn quickly?

Unfortunately, there are no short cuts when it comes to learning. If you are living in an English-language environment, and have experienced teachers helping you, your progress will be faster than taking lessons in your own country. Why not look at our courses and see how we can help you. Ask your employer if they can help you arrange a language stay here in Britain - we will be happy to help prepare you for your job.

What’s the best way to learn English?

There is no ‘best’ way, but no one learns well if they are stressed, or bored. We offer a variety of courses so there will be something for everyone. Our student feedback on all our courses is very positive.

What’s the fastest way to learn English?

Your progress will be faster if you can come to Britain and immerse yourself in English, but our students are also very happy with our online classes. How much you learn depends on how much you study - to learn you need to practise. Our teachers are experienced in delivering motivating and interesting online lessons, so have a look at our website for more information.

What is special about Hilderstone?

We have over 50 years’ experience of providing top-quality language courses for students and teachers from all over the world. We have a rigorous system of quality assurance and we do everything we can to ensure that students enjoy and benefit from their course, whether they study here in Broadstairs or online. 

Our classes are taught by experienced and highly-motivated teachers, who have a good level of training and qualifications, and are always happy to offer help and advice. Lesson materials often include British culture, history, arts and literature.

Where is Broadstairs?

Broadstairs is in the Isle of Thanet, in the south-east of England, and is on the coast. It is just one hour and twenty minutes from London by high-speed train, and has good connections to the London airports. It is also easy to travel to the port of Dover for ferry connections, as well as the international Eurostar stations to St. Pancras. 

How do I get to Broadstairs?

Click here for information about travelling to Broadstairs from your UK arrival point. 

How much spending money will I need?

For an idea of everyday living costs, check "The cost of living in Broadstairs" section of our Student Handbook. 

How long can I study in the UK?

This will depend mainly on your nationality, and whether or not you are subject to visa restrictions.

For up-to-date advice, click here.


How do I book a course?

Follow these simple steps! 

  1. Complete our enrolment form
  2. Submit your pre-course test and questionnaire
  3. Once we have accepted your enrolment, pay a non-refundable deposit of £400 or the full amount.  
  4. If you are taking a course in Broadstairs, please tell us your travel plans when you have this information.

How can I know my level of English?

We will use your pre-course test to assess your level of English, and will let you know the class level we feel is best for you. If you wish to enrol on an academic English course or study for a specific exam, we will advise you if we feel your level of English is unsuitable at the enrolment stage.  

How do I pay for my course?

Once we have accepted your enrolment, pay a non-refundable deposit of £400 (or the full amount) by Flywire or bank transfer. Click here for more details.

What do I need to bring with me?

You need to bring:

  • Your passport
  • Your insurance documents
  • Your Confirmation of Booking
  • A tablet/iPad/computer (using the College’s free WiFi)
  • Your driving license if you would like to drive in the UK
  • Any medication you require or a note from your doctor about your medication
  • Stationery (notepads, pens, markers, etc.)

Click here for more ideas on what to bring with you

How quickly will I progress?

It is difficult to answer this question, as everyone is different! However, as a general guide, most students will increase one level (for example, B1 (Intermediate) to B2 (Upper-Intermediate) with three months of full-time study on an Intensive English course. Most coursebooks are designed with this in mind.  

How big are the classes?

Our average class size is 7 students, with a guaranteed maximum of 14 (15 for Teenage School Groups). (Please note that the maximum number will be reduced if Covid-19 restrictions are in place). 

How can I develop my language skills outside class hours?

We have a wonderful multimedia Learning Centre which is popular for self-access study after class. Facilities include listening stations, study materials and resources (including exam preparation materials), DVDs and newspapers. It is open every day and some evenings, and there is a member of staff to help you with anything you need.

In addition, we have a ‘Quiet Room’ which is available to students after school hours as long as the College is open.   

We also provide all students with a Google for Education account, which is used both in and out of the classroom. This enables you to practise your English with a variety of online materials and resources and communicate with other students and your teachers.   

What opportunities will I have to practise my English outside class?

Your homestay hosts will provide you with a valuable opportunity to practise your new language skills with a native speaker! In addition, we organise regular activities and excursions, which give you the opportunity to talk to other students outside your class. 

As you get to know the town and other students, you are likely to meet local people as you socialise in the evenings and at weekends. Broadstairs is a friendly town and many people are very happy to have a chat! 

Do I have to pay for books?

A coursebook is provided for stays of 3 weeks or more. If your course is less than 3 weeks, we will loan you a coursebook with an option to return (unmarked) at the end of the course, or to buy at cost price. All other lesson materials provided by the teacher are free of charge. 

What happens on my first day?

If you are having a course in Broadstairs, on your first day you will be tested again to make sure that we put you in the right class for you. We will give you a tour to show you around the College and introduce you to the staff. We will also let you know about your timetable and the class that you will be joining. You will meet your fellow students and start your course.

If you are booked on an online course, you will have received your timetable in advance and an invitation to an online lesson. Please join it on time, and your teacher will tell you all about your online course.

When will I know my timetable?

If you are attending a course in Broadstairs, on your first day we will tell you which class you will join and your timetable.

If you are attending an online course, we will email you all your course information once your course is confirmed.

What is my student email?

Your College Gmail address and password will be sent to you with your Confirmation of Booking. 

How do I access online lessons?

Shortly before your course, your teacher will email you with joining instructions for your course. Our main platform is Zoom

How do I access my student drive?

If you are taking a course in Broadstairs, you will receive a Welcome Letter when your booking is confirmed. This includes the details of your student email account, and a link to step-by-step instructions on how to access this account.

If you are taking an online course, you will receive an email confirmation of your course. This email will include the details of your student email account, and a link to step-by-step instructions on how to access or add this account.

Is my end-of-course certificate an official document?

We email all our students an end-of-course certificate that proves that they have attended a course here at Hilderstone College. We can issue a paper version if requested. It includes details such as course name, level, dates, etc. However, this is not an official qualification, and it is not equivalent to an English language examination.

What exams can I take?

We offer preparation courses for IELTS, Cambridge First and Cambridge Advanced, with the opportunity to book your exam locally or in London if it is taken during your stay. In addition, we have a wide variety of practice materials available in our Multimedia Learning Centre.

We also have some self-study materials for other English exams and can offer advice if needed. Please let us know at the time of enrolment if you are interested in a particular exam.

What activities are available?

During the week, we organise a wide range of free activities after class, either late afternoon or in the evenings. Sample activities include quizzes, arts and crafts workshops, folk dancing or games nights. We also have sports and fitness sessions available.

On Friday afternoons we offer an excursion to a local place (normally within 35 km of Broadstairs) such as an interesting town or city, a castle or an activity centre (cycling, mini-golf, etc.)

On Saturdays we offer a longer excursion outside the area – for example, London, Cambridge or Brighton. 

Which social programme activities are paid? How much do they cost?

Our social programme is voluntary, and most activities are free of charge.

We aim to have 2-4 paid activities/trips/excursions per week, and the price can range from £3 to £45 per activity/trip/excursion (average £25).*

* Included in the English+Action, English+Sightseeing and English + Mindfulness courses.


Are we accompanied on each activity?

Yes, there will always be at least one member of the Hilderstone staff on all activities and excursions.

Do I have to take part in the social programme?

No, you are free to join in as many or as few as you wish (unless you are part of a group with other arrangements).


Where will I stay?

Most of our students choose to stay in local, private homestay accommodation. We will do our best to place you in a homestay which matches your individual needs and requirements.

Our homestay accommodation includes:

  • your own bedroom
  • bedding and towels
  • a place for you to study
  • breakfast and dinner on weekdays (Monday to Friday)
  • breakfast, lunch and dinner at weekends (Saturday and Sunday)
  • a light laundry service


Do I have to stay at a homestay?

No, you are free to choose self-catering or hotel accommodation as an alternative if you wish. We cannot arrange this for you, but we are happy to provide information if required. We recommend you visit the Visit Thanet website for details of local hotels and self-catering accommodation.

What are the benefits of staying at homestay accommodation?

Staying with a local host or family offers excellent value for money and also means you can continue to practise your English, as well as discover more about life in Britain. Your evening meal will normally be with your host(s). All our homestay hosts are caring and will treat you as a member of the family. 

When can I arrive/depart my homestay?

The normal arrival day is the Sunday before your course, with departure on the Saturday after your course ends. Subject to availability, you may arrive on Saturday or depart on Sunday. There is a £40 per night supplement for extra nights up to two extra nights.

There is a supplement of £20 for late arrivals (22.30 – 00.00) or departures before 06.30. Please always check with the College in advance before making any travel plans that involve a late arrival or early departure – this option may not be available. Please note no arrivals after midnight.

How far are the homestays?

The majority of homestays are within walking distance of the College (30 minutes maximum). If you are placed in accommodation which is further away, we will provide you with a free bus pass, giving you unlimited travel in the local area.

Which meals are included in my homestay accommodation?

Breakfast and evening meal Monday – Friday

Breakfast, lunch and evening meal Saturday and Sunday.

(unless you come with a group with other arrangements)

Will I have a desk in my bedroom?

There will always be a place for you to study in the homestay, although it may not always be a desk in your bedroom.   

Do I need a visa?

This will depend on your nationality and your length of stay. For detailed information, visit the UK Government website.   This will also tell you what documents you need to provide and detailed information about the visa application procedure.

If my visa is refused, what is the cancellation policy?

Upon receipt of an official visa refusal letter, you will receive a full refund of your fees paid, less £25 administration fee. Alternatively, the fees paid can be credited to a future course.

What happens if I have to cancel for other reasons?

Take a look at the ‘Cancellations, Holidays and Refunds Policy’ section of our Terms and Conditions. 

Which documents do I need to show at the border?

Please carry with you your enrolment documents from Hilderstone College and details of your return travel arrangements in case you need to show these to an immigration officer.

Follow the signs at the airport – you may need to see an immigration officer to get a stamp on your passport.

We recommend checking the UK Government website for up-to-date details.   

Do I need insurance?

We strongly recommend taking out some form of insurance to cover unexpected problems. We can arrange insurance cover for you through our own provider at £6.33 per week, or you are welcome to make your own arrangements.  

Can I take a break during my course?

Students enrolling for at least 12 weeks can book 1 week of holiday per every 12 weeks of tuition, and we ask for a four-week notice period for a credit or refund of the tuition fees and half of the accommdoation fees.

If you can't find the answer to your question and still need help? Contact Us.