What is ESOL?

Thinking about improving your English skills? You should consider ESOL…

Gaining an ESOL qualification demonstrates that you have good speaking, writing, listening and reading skills in English. Not only will it help improve your social interactions and everyday life – it’s also a great way to show employers your language skills and add to your CV.

To help you get up-to-speed, here’s a quick guide to ESOL, and how to find the right course for you:


What is ESOL?

ESOL stands for English for Speakers of Other Languages. It’s aimed at non-native English speakers, looking to take up a new language or validate their skills.

You can study ESOL in the UK or abroad.


Why do I need ESOL?

If you’re applying for UK Citizenship, your English will be assessed. If it’s below Entry Level 3, you’ll need to pass ESOL.

Of course, ESOL is also a great way to reassure prospective employers that you have the English skills they are looking for.

The course is also designed to be practical. So it’ll teach you every day English, including punctuation and grammar, rather than things you won’t often be called up to use in the real world.

Additionally, improving your English will help you in other ways, for example:

  • Talking to English speakers
  • Helping your children with their school work
  • Continuing your own education
  • Gaining professional qualifications


What are the entry requirements for ESOL?

There are no formal entry requirements for ESOL, so it doesn’t matter if this is your first qualification.

However, you will have to complete an initial assessment when you apply for the course. This will help the provider to know which level of entry is right for you, and identify whether you need any additional support.


How do I choose a course?

You should always choose a course which is accredited by a Government approved exam board and, ideally, is held at an accredited college.

There are courses at different levels. This means you can start at a level which suits your current English skills.

If you’re applying to be a British Citizen, you can take a combined ESOL and citizenship course to prepare you for the ‘Life in the UK’ test.


How can I find an accredited college?

Approved tests and providers are listed and updated on the gov.uk website.

There are also a number of free courses available, many of which you’ll be able to take online. However, always bear in mind that completing an accredited is the only way to ensure it’ll be accepted by the Government or by certain employers.


How much will it cost?

ESOL prices will vary, depending on course provider.

However, funding options may also be available, depending on your background and current situation. For example, if you’re unemployed, on certain benefits, or have a low income, you may be eligible for assisted funding.


How long is the course?

Depending on the level, your course could take between 4 months and a year to complete.

Full-time courses are available for 16-19 year olds, with part-time courses available for those aged 19 and over.


What happens after ESOL?

Once you’ve gained your ESOL certification, you’ll be able to progress to another course at a higher level. And, once you’ve achieved Entry Level 3, you can look for a job or take Level 1 college courses.


What about ESL/EFL/EAL?

You may see other versions of ESOL when doing your research. These are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing.

For example:

  • ESL – English as a second language
  • EFL – English as a foreign language
  • EAL – English as an additional language

Be careful, though, as these abbreviations can also relate to those who teach English (see TEFL for more information).

What is TEFL?


How can ESOL improve my CV?

An ESOL certification won’t just help out in your day-to-day life. It’s also a great way to show your skills on your applications, and could be the difference between you and another candidate.

Benefits include:

  • Demonstrating that you are a fast learner
  • Showing how quickly you can adapt to new situations
  • Improving your communication skills
  • Learning a new language

So whether you want to validate your skills, set yourself apart or just learn something new, ESOL will work for you.



Ready to get started? View all available ESOL courses now.