Author - Áine

7 reasons why Foyle International is the best place to study OET in the UK

From our highly qualified staff, to our unique location, here are some reasons why Foyle International is the best place to study OET in the UK.

1. Prepare for AND take the OET exam at Foyle International

There are several study options for overseas professionals regarding OET at Foyle International. For those who need to improve their English language, whilst developing and learning skills and techniques needed to pass the OET exam, our OET Medical English preparation courses would be perfect for you.

Depending on your level of English you would study OET Medical English for 3/6/9 months (or more), and taking the OET exam at the end of the course. The aim is to achieve OET Grade B.

For those who already have a high level of English (approx. OET Grade B/IELTS 7.0) and require exam skills and techniques to pass the OET exam, our 1 week Preparation Course would be ideal.

Students can then take the actual OET exam itself in Foyle International, as we are N Ireland’s first and only OET exam centre!

2. Foyle International have specialised in Medical English for 20 years

We pride ourselves on our highly experienced staff who are trained in delivery of OET preparation courses, ensuring any study you take here will be of the highest quality.

We first specialised in Medical English in 2000 when we had a large number of student doctors and nurses from the Middle East and India who were starting their journey in healthcare here in the UK and in Ireland.

3. Derry is a growing Medical Hub

Derry is a unique location – specifically for overseas nurses – as it is the only place in the UK where you can study for and take the OET exam, as well as prepare and take the OSCE 1 and OSCE 2 exams.

Ulster University, based in Derry, is one of three OSCE 2 examination centres across the UK.

Read more about the NMC Test of Competency examinations here.

OSCE 2 exam centre at Ulster University, Magee campus in Derry 

4. Nurses studying with Foyle International can visit the OSCE 2 exam centre

An advantage for those nurses studying OET in Derry is that they can actually go to see the test venue where they will be taking the practical 4 hour exam, and will also be offered a 15 hour OSCE 2 preparation course as part of the Route to Employment programme. 

5. Foyle will find you a Route to Employment

Foyle International offers nurses who achieve OET Grade B an 8 month PAID work placement, with the opportunity to secure a 2-3 year employment in the UK at the end.

For overseas nurses who study OET with Foyle International and enrol on the Route to Employment programme, by the end of the OET preparation they will

-          Be prepared for interviews for jobs in Northern Ireland

-          Secured a job offer for an 8 month paid work placement

-          The employer will typically reimburse the flights to home country

The nurse will then have to return to their home country to reapply for their Tier 2 visa and then return to complete their work placement in Northern Ireland.

During the 8 months they will prepare for and have 3 attempts to pass the OSCE 2 exam in Derry.

6. Derry is the most affordable UK city to live in

As the UK’s number 1 most affordable city to live in (Lloyd’s Bank 2019), the cost of living is significantly lower than our neighbours in England and the rest of the UK.

Studying and or working in Derry means that the cost of living is lower, with better value for your money.

Overall, Northern Irish cities are much more affordable than anywhere else in the UK.

7. We have the best of British education and Irish hospitality!

A unique location – situated on the border of the UK and Republic of Ireland, means that Derry has the “best of both”.

In addition, Derry was voted one of the UK’s friendliest cities, when you visit Derry you won’t be surprised as to why! A small and safe city, many Derry locals are welcoming and chatty to foreign students and tourists, often keen to share more information about our historic city! 

For further information on our OET courses or booking an OET exam, get in touch with or download an application form here.


TEFL or CELTA – What is the difference, and what is best?

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language and is the umbrella term for many different types of courses that prepare you to teach English. CELTA is one type of TEFL course. Firstly, we’ll look at TEFL courses in general before looking more in-depth at the CELTA course.

Which course? There are so many to choose from! 

Just as if you decided to learn to cook, there are hundreds of different cookery courses for you to choose from. Some courses are short introductions or focus on one area of cookery while others are longer and are more in-depth. Some courses provide demonstrations but offer no practice, but other courses do both. Courses can be online, face-to-face or a combination of these. You could do a cookery course that offers in-house certificate by the provider, or you could decide to look for an internationally recognized certificate, diploma or degree that would take you further afield and offer wider opportunities.

And the same goes for TEFL courses, there are hundreds to choose from, this makes it all very confusing! 

EFL teacher

TEFL tourism

On top of this is TEFL tourism – this is a growing sector which offers “package deals” often combining an online TEFL course with work placements and exciting holiday experiences abroad. While these can have instant appeal, especially to those who are eager to travel, the teaching qualification within the package does not always mean that you can get work outside of that organization or group of schools, and it almost certainly means you will not be able to teach in every country, including the UK and Ireland, or in the “better quality” or accredited schools worldwide.

This means that if you wish to pursue teaching as a career, or if you simply wish to work for schools or organizations that offer better pay and contracts, then you will need to get a reputable and recognizable qualification.

TEFL courses vary considerably in what they offer

TEFL courses vary considerably in duration and price, and whether they offer any face-to-face classes, or most importantly, if they provide actual teaching practice. Cheaper courses tend to be shorter (10 hours upwards), or online, or with very little, if any, real teaching practice. While all TEFL courses will teach you something, and while all have some merit, what good employers look for are teachers who they know are able to stand in front of a class and to deliver well-planned and useful lessons. And, students want this too!

CELTA – hands on teaching experience 

What a CELTA certificate flags to employers is that you are able to do just that. If you choose CELTA as your TEFL qualification, not only will you be gaining the most internationally recognized certificate accredited by Cambridge ESOL, you will get to turn all the theory you learn into practical skills by teaching real English language learners for a minimum of 6 hours. You tutors will observe your teaching and offer you feedback and advice so that, by the end of the course, you are ready and able to apply for the better TEFL jobs the whole world over, and to get them!

If you are considering teaching English and would like advice on CELTA or other TEFL courses, then feel free to contact us. We have a team of experienced, well-travelled TEFL teachers and teacher trainers who are happy to answer your questions. We can also advise you on the job opportunities available to our CELTA graduates.

For more information, please get in touch with or give us a call on +44 (0) 28 71 371 535


7 Facts about St Patrick’s Day you should know!

Everybody knows…17th of March is Saint Patrick’s Day! But what don’t you know, is that this holiday is surrounded by ancient Myths, Legends and Tradition?

Ireland's national holiday has been exported all over the world, becoming a commercial celebration in many countries, increasing the sales of beer and Irish whiskey during these days.

Do you ever wonder why the predominant colour is green, and that you see shamrocks everywhere? Of course these symbols are strictly connected to Irish culture, but lets look at the associated meaning behind them.

1) Who is St Patrick and why is he celebrated on March 17th?

Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick is a saint of the Catholic Church, and his holy day is the day of his death and  entrance to heaven, the 17th of March of 461 AD. 

St. Patrick wasn’t Irish, and he wasn’t born in Ireland, he was born in 385 AD from Roman Christian parents living in England, or more precisely in Scotland or Wales.

At the age of 16, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders who took him away and sold him as a slave. He spent several years in Ireland herding sheep and learning about the people there until he was able to escape and made his way to a monastery in England.

He later returned to Ireland around 432 AD to convert the Irish to Christianity 

2) What does the Shamrock represent?

Generally speaking this symbol is connected with faith, hope, love and luck, represented by the four leaf-clover, but the three leaves of a shamrock were actually used by Patrick to teach the mystery of the Holy Trinity: the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The shamrock is a popular Irish symbol, but it is not the symbol of Ireland. As early as the medieval period, and before that, the harp was popular in Irish legend and culture and has represented the nation. King Henry VIII used the harp on coins, later, it was used on Irish flags and coats of arms and the harp was also used as a national symbol of the Irish people during their long struggle for freedom even when Ireland became an independent country in 1921.

3) Why do we wear green clothing for St Patrick's Day?

St Patrick day tradition

The original colour associated with St. Patrick is blue, not green as commonly believed. 

Green was associated with the country later, probably after it was linked to the Irish independence movement in the late 18th century, presumably because of the greenness of the countryside. In fact, the country is also referred to as the “Emerald Isle”.

4) Have you ever seen a snake in Ireland?


Legend says that St. Patrick drove all the snakes away from Ireland. In reality, this probably did not occur, as there is no evidence that snakes have ever existed in Ireland, the climate being too cold for them to thrive. Despite that, scholars suggest that “snakes” may be metaphorical and refer to pagan religious beliefs and practices.

5) St. Patrick’s Day was invented in America by Irish-Americans

Irish American flag

During the Eighteenth-century, Irish soldiers fighting with the British in the U.S. Revolutionary War, held the first St. Patrick’s Day parade, marching through New York City in United States in 1762 to reconnect with their Irish roots, becoming the oldest and longest running civilian parade in the world.

Today there are more Irish in the USA than in Ireland, in fact is estimated 34 million Americans have Irish ancestry and only 4.2 million people are living in Ireland.

In the 19th century, millions of Irish left the country for the US and this emigration continued until the economic boom of the 1990s, when more Irish stayed in their native country than travelled abroad searching for better opportunities. The Irish faced discrimination and prejudice, and they were perceived as disloyal, to combat this and to confirm their ethnic identity, Saint Patrick’s Day became an occasion to demonstrate their political and social might as a community. Other parades followed in the years after in Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago, where the Chicago River is dyeing green.

6) St. Patrick’s Day was a dry holiday in Ireland

divieto-di-birraAside from the colour green, the activity most associated with St. Patrick’s Day is drinking. Paradoxically, Irish law, from 1903 to 1970, declared St. Patrick’s Day a strictly religious observance for the entire country, meaning that all pubs were closed for the day…so no beer at all! In 1970, the day was converted to a national holiday, and the taps resumed flowing.

7) Who are the Leprechauns?

Leprechaun Picture

In Irish folklore, the Leprechauns are cranky fairies who mend the shoes of the other fairies, they have magical powers and delight in mischief and trickery, which they use to guard their fabled treasures. If you catch a Leprechaun he must grant 3 wishes.

May the Luck of the Irish be with you!
Historically, the Irish have been a very unlucky people, the phrase “Luck of the Irish” can be traced to the 1800s during the US gold rush where a high number of Irish people found gold and silver.

Now we should be aware of what we are going to do, see or wear on the 17th of March…So let’s go wild and green!

Everyone is Irish on the 17th of March… Happy Saint Patrick’s Day Folks!!!

OET Preparation course

5 Reasons to do an OET Preparation Course

Considering taking an OET preparation course ahead of your OET exam? At Foyle International we offer several options for study to best prepare you to pass the Occupational English Test (OET).

A preparation course will provide you with: 

  • Advice on which areas of your English Language skills which need improved 
  • Up-to-date and unique preparation material, personalised feedback on your skills and techniques, to help you achieve your desired OET grade  
  • Expert guidance throughout your study journey in an English speaking environment.

At Foyle, we are an official OET Preparation Provider Programme, and we take pride in our expert staff and high quality teaching. Here are 5 main benefits to studying an OET preparation course before taking the exam:  

1. Practise English in real workplace scenarios 

The speaking section of an OET exam is a 5 minute role-play which focuses on real healthcare scenarios. This is designed to assess how well you can use English in an everyday professional situation. 

Nothing like online courses taking an OET preparation courses gives you the opportunity to practise with your teacher and other classmates face to face, whilst also receiving valuable feedback and guidance.

2. OET preparation courses are designed for individual needs and profession

Each healthcare profession requires different skills and techniques. OET preparation courses can be tailored to your job role – helping you to achieve your goals

At the beginning of the course, you will complete a needs analysis and confirm your profession, so that you are prepared for the correct test papers, and that the English skills you learn will be as useful as possible for your new career in the UK or Ireland.



3. Improve your exam skills and techniques 

The OET has four sections:

Listening - Reading - Writing - Speaking

It's similar to other English exams. 

A preparation course gives you the opportunity to practise your English and work on your exam skills and techniques across all four components. Your teacher will guide you through the exam structure and show you what to best expect in each section – how much time you need, what kind of language you need to use, what you should study, and how to approach the answer in the right way. Taking an exam preparation course will give you the confidence in knowing you can do your best on exam day

4. OET preparation courses fit into the OET exam schedule

Whether you do a 6 month OET prep course or a 1 week intensive course, they will run in conjunction with the OET exams, which are on a Saturday. That means that when you finish your course on the Friday, you will take the exam the following morning at our exam centre

5. Flexible course options, depending on your level of English 

We offer two options for OET preparation: 

This course will develop your English language skills, focusing on Medical English, so that you are able to achieve OET Grade B (IELTS level 7.0), whilst also giving you the techniques required to pass the exam itself. 

The intensive course focuses on improving your language skills and techniques, equipping you with the study skills required to pass the OET exam. This is best focused for those who already have a high level of English, and really only need skills and technique preparation. 


  • Well experienced, highly qualified teachers  
  • We provide homestay or self-catering accommodation  
  • This course is valid for 12 healthcare professionals: doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, optometrists, dietitians, Vets, podiatrists and radiographers.   
  • OET is accepted by the NMC and GMC and also UKVI for visa purposes

Interested in taking one of our preparation courses? Get in touch with or check out our courses.