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Learning English or improving what you already know is really useful if you want to study, get on in work or learn more about your rights and responsibilities. And, if you have children, it is a great way to help them with their schoolwork.

Which course should I do?

The best way to learn or improve your English is to take an English for Speakers of Other Languages course, often known as ESOL. These courses are widely available through colleges and other learning providers in towns and cities, and can be studied part-time or full-time.

The course teacher will always check what level of English you have already reached and suggest the course that will be most suitable for you. Your class will also include people who have a similar level of English to you, and the teaching will be friendly, informal and fun.

What does an ESOL course cover?

An ESOL course will include speaking, reading, writing and listening. It will also cover spelling, grammar and punctuation.

If you need a higher level of English, for example if you want to go to university, need a visa or  want to work in certain careers, such as medicine or law, there are two testing services that will assess your level of English. The test is called the Secure English Language Test (SELT). The two testing services are:

Finding an ESOL course

Always check that the course you have found is accredited or recognised by a professional awarding body. Some of the main awarding bodies are Cambridge ESOL, Trinity College, City and Guilds, and Edexcel.

If you can't find anything suitable or are unsure if the course is recognised, then get in touch with National Careers Service and we'll do our best to help you further.

How much does a course cost?

The cost of an ESOL course will vary depending on where you study and your personal circumstances. If you are out of work or claiming certain benefits, you may be able to study ESOL for free. In all cases, you should check with the course provider for exact details.

How do I become a British citizen?

You need a good level of English to apply to become a British citizen. Check out this Home Office website on the Life in the UK test for more information about applying for British citizenship.