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English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

We offer free ESOL courses for those who do not have English as their first language. We will help you to develop your communication skills for everyday situations. You will have the opportunity to work with students from many different countries: you'll make new friends, boost your confidence and learn how to read, write and speak clearly in English. We have previous experience of using these courses to help integrate Syrian, Ukrainian and Afghan Refugees, and others, from around the world.

Entry onto the ESOL courses depends on the individuals situation (for example if you/they are a refugee or asylum seeker). This will be established during initial contact. Please read below for ESOL course details.

Entry Requirements

UK/EU/EEA Residents

  • Has been a UK, EU or EEA resident, or is a family member of a UK or EEA national, continuously for the previous three years
  • Has the right to live and work in the UK, or has permission granted by the UK government to live in the UK
  • Aged 19+

Non-UK/EU/EEA Residents

  • Aged 19+
  • They have been in the UK for at least 6 months
  • They are a refugee
  • They are an asylum seeker currently applying for asylum, or have already obtained asylum

Who is ESOL for?

ESOL are entry-level English language courses for people whose first language is not English to develop confidence in using the English language. This will help with integrating, living, studying, communicating and working in the UK. The emphasis is on building up the basics of the English language to continue on to higher levels. The courses cover all elements of communicating in English: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Each level of ESOL builds on the previous level up to the completion of a Level 1 qualification. These qualifications are nationally recognised. You will learn in a friendly, supportive online environment and at a pace to suit your needs.

Initial Assessments

  • You must sit an assessment to join an ESOL course
  • Assessments are held every Friday between 1pm-3.30pm at the Coleridge Centre. Assessments are not held on bank holidays or during school holidays
  • Assessments take approximately 1 hour
  • The level at which you join an ESOL course is dependent on your results of the initial assessment and any previous qualifications you may hold
  • You may incur a waiting period in between completing your assessment and starting lessons
  • Due to the nature of the assessments, they cannot be held online away from the centre


We offer ESOL at the following levels:

  • Pre Entry
  • Entry Level 1
  • Entry Level 2
  • Entry Level 3
  • Level 1 (equivalent to GCSE grade 1-3 / old graded D-G)

Course Content

All levels cover general English topics including English language, words, spelling, grammar, etc...

Pre Entry

  • Very basic language skills for working towards Entry Level 1

Entry Level 1

  • Read confidently
  • Understand straightforward texts
  • Write clearly and effectively
  • Listen and respond to others

Entry Level 2

  • Read and understand short, straightforward texts
  • Write simple sentences and carry out basic proofreading
  • Listen, respond and discuss familiar topics with more than one person

Entry Level 3

  • Read and understand straightforward texts
  • Write simple sentences and carry out some editing
  • Listen, respond and discuss familiar topics with more than two people

Level 1

  • Read confidently
  • Understand texts
  • Write clearly and effectively
  • Listen and speak clearly and effectively in a flowing conversation

Time and Location

  • You will attend two, 2 to 3 hour lessons per week
  • ESOL courses are roll on/roll off - there is no set start or end date and you will work at your own pace
  • Courses are held on a variety of days and times, including evenings


Please bring:

  • a notepad
  • a pen (or a digital device) to take notes
  • a file to store your work
  • If you have one - a smartphone or device with translation software


ESOL is free of charge, providing you meet the eligibility criteria listed above. If you do not meet any one of the three criteria listed, you can pay for the course - please contact us on the details below for costs.


  • You must sit a mandatory exam to achieve your qualification
  • Exams take place at The Coleridge Centre or Bennet House in Darlington
  • Under no circumstances can you sit your exam at home or at any other venue
  • Exams for ESOL in England are set by the Department for Education in cooperation with national exam boards. There are no nationally set dates and times for ESOL exams, you will only sit an exam after a period of study when your tutor and yourself mutually agree you are exam ready
  • Entry level learners carry out exams in an informal environment with appropriate support. Level 1 learners will sit a more formal exam.


After this course has finished you may like to progress to the next level in ESOL which might be a higher Entry Level or Level 1. You can also progress to Functional Skills English Level 1 upon competing ESOL. You may also wish to join other courses delivered by Learning & Skills across a variety of areas. 

What do I do next?

Please contact us to book an initial assessment on 01325 405601, 07932 869325 or l&[email protected]and please let us know if you have been referred from the Job Centre.

ESOL learners holding up the flags of their home country 

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