Improving your language skills and fluency is one of the benefits of study abroad, but be prepared to put in some work before you go and once you have arrived.

LanguagesRequired language level

If a university has a language requirement, you will be able to see this on the Global Opportunities SharePoint Site in the Host University Catalogue.

Most universities measure language level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR). Because the CEFR aims to compare language levels across different countries’ school systems, it doesn’t correlate directly to GCSEs and A Levels, so it’s important to read a description of the different CEFR levels on the Europass website.

This table shows the approximate equivalent qualifications:

"> CEFR level  FLTU module  Approximate equivalence
 A1  Beginner  
 A2  Elementary  GCSE A* - C
 B1  Lower Intermediate  AS Level A* - C
 B2  Upper Intermediate  A Level A* - C
 C1  Advanced  
 C2  Advanced Plus  Near-native fluency

You are usually expected to be comfortably at B1 level, as a minimum, by the end of level 2 at Leeds, however some of our partner universities will have a higher or lower minimum language requirement.

Demonstrating your language proficiency

If you apply to a university which teaches in another language, you must be prepared to demonstrate your language competency by submitting evidence in your application to the study abroad programme. As part of the online application, you will be asked to:

  • State your CEFR level (as a self-assessment) – see the Europass website for CEFR level descriptions.
  • Upload evidence of your language level in the form of GCSE, A-Level, AS Level Certificates or equivalent. If you have completed a language discovery module at the University of Leeds, you must upload your year 1 result with details on the FLTU module you have completed. We also accept certificates confirming you have completed a language course at a private language provider.
  • Give details of your plans to improve your language competency before departure.  

On the online application form, you will also have the opportunity to provide any details you would like us to take into consideration when assessing your language level (for example, you are bilingual).

If you have any questions on language levels and language evidence needed to be able to apply to study abroad at selected partner universities, please book an appointment with a member of the Study Abroad team.

Improving your language skills

Whether you’re studying in another language and want to build up your confidence and academic vocabulary, or will be taught in English but want to learn the basics, there are various ways for you to improve your language skills in advance of your study abroad year.

Discovery modules

You may be able to study a language as a discovery module. Languages for All (based within the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies) offers a wide range of 10 and 20 credit discovery modules in a variety of languages. These are coded "FLTU" in the module catalogue. 40 credits should equip you to cope well with everyday communication abroad. If you have queries, contact

Summer Schools

The Global Opportunities Team offers a wide range of summer school opportunities, including some language learning programmes. Find out how to apply and read more about individual summer schools.

Pre-sessional language courses

Many universities offer intensive pre-sessional language courses aimed at new international students. The cost of these varies. Courses run over the summer and usually last between two and six weeks.

An intensive language course at your future host university (or with a private provider in your future host city) can give you time to familiarise yourself with the city, look for accommodation (if you need to) and maybe meet other exchange students who'll be at the university.

The Language Zone

The Language Zone is free and open to all students at Leeds. Just bring along your student ID to borrow items. It is located on the second floor of the Parkinson Building. It has a computer cluster for personal study and books, magazines, audio and video resources to help you learn a language.

Global Café

Meet international students in Common Ground in Leeds University Union from 17.30 to 19.30 every Monday. Global Café is a great way to practice your language skills in an informal setting while enjoying free tea, coffee and biscuits.

Conversation practice

Many international students at Leeds are looking for native English speakers to practice their conversational skills with. You can find an exchange partner by creating a Language Exchange profile on Leeds for Life

If you would like to meet regularly with other students to practice the language you are learning, you can also sign up to join a Language Group or Tandem@Leeds. Language Groups are led by students who are native speakers who facilitate friendly relaxed conversation sessions on various topics. 

Leeds Erasmus and International exchange Society

Arrange informal meetings to practice the language with an incoming exchange student at Leeds by joining the Erasmus and International Exchange Society.

Private language courses

An internet search will bring up companies offering private language tuition. Charges will vary. Leeds Beckett University offers evening classes in different languages over the academic year for a reasonable fee. For Spanish, there's also the Instituto Cervantes on Woodhouse Lane, and Alliance Francaise for French.