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Council Services:

English for Speakers of Other Languages

What is ESOL?

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses teach English to speakers of other languages who wish to live and work in the UK.

There are ESOL course with language and Life in the UK elements. If you pass one of these courses, you’ll meet the language and knowledge of life requirements for naturalisation.

Where do I go to find an ESOL course? What do I need to ask for?

The courses are available at many Further Education, Adult and Community Colleges across the UK.

If you wish to do a course for citizenship purposes check:

  • the college course you’re offered includes the “language with citizenship” materials;
  • the college will give you a letter to prove this when you successfully complete the course.

Will I have to pay for a course?

You may be eligible for free tuition if you:

  • are a refugee;
  • have been legally resident in the UK or the EU for three years (or 12 months if married to a British citizen).

Will I get a certificate at the end of the course?

Yes. The Home Office will need to see:

  • the certificate from the Awarding Body;
  • a letter from the college where you did the course confirming the course covered the Life in the UK syllabus.

How long will it take me to complete the course?

This will depend on the level of language skills you have and how quickly you learn.  The college you choose should be able to advise you on how long it might take.

How long will I have to wait to get on a course?

This will depend on where you live. Some areas will have waiting lists.

I have been in the UK for three years - can I take a course now?

You can take a course at any time. However, you’ll need to keep proof of your qualification until you’re allowed to apply for naturalisation.

How will you monitor the validity of courses? What is to prevent bogus colleges cashing in?

There are strict controls over private language colleges, which, under a joint DfES/HO scheme, are subject to inspection.

We only accept certificates gained through public sector colleges or private sector colleges approved by the English UK scheme.

What is English UK?

English UK is the association for British Council accredited English language centres in the UK.

The English UK website has details of privately owned schools and state sector centres offering English courses in the UK.

I have just arrived in the UK; can I take a course now?

You can take a course but may have to pay a fee.  You may be able to get free tuition if you:

  • are a refugee;
  • have been legally resident in the EU for three years.

Does my ESOL certificate expire?

Your certificate is a recognised ESOL qualification, or part of one, and therefore has no expiry date.  The letter from the college will confirm the course you took had a citizenship context.

Can I do a course at a private language school?

Yes, if the private language school is offering an approved ESOL with citizenship content course. You will however have to pay a fee.

What should I do if I am doing an ESOL course but it doesn’t have the citizenship content?

You’ll have to:

  • change to a course with citizenship content;
  • take the Life in the UK Test if you’ve reached ESOL Entry Level 3.

Need an appointment?

For your convenience, you can book an appointment to register a Birth or Death online.


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Last updated: 30 June 2016

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