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English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)
If English isn't your main language, you can do a course to help you improve your English. These courses are called ESOL or English for Speakers of other Languages.
Improving your English will make it easier to:
• talk to doctors and teachers
• understand the laws and customs of the UK
• do a course and get a qualification
• help your child with homework
• pass the Life in the UK test and become a British citizen
What does an ESOL course involve?
ESOL courses cover:
• speaking and listening
• reading and writing
• punctuation and grammar
There are courses at different levels so you'll be able to start at the right level for you.
Find a course
Where can I get advice?
There are ESOL courses throughout the UK and advice is available to help you choose the right course for you. For free advice, call the Get On helpline. Lines are open from 8.00 am to 10.00 pm, seven days a week. Get On helpline: 0800 100 900
You can also book a free call back at a time to suit you, by using the interactive telephone service. Book a free call back from a learning adviser
Advice in other languages
If you'd like advice on learning and careers, you can speak to a Careers Advice Service advisor in the following languages:
• Farsi - 0800 0931116
• French - 0800 093 1115
• Gujarati - 0800 093 1119
• Punjabi - 0800 093 1333
• Polish - 0800 093 1114
• Somali - 0800 093 1555
• Sylheti - 0800 093 1444
• Urdu - 0800 093 1118
• Welsh - 0800 100 900
The helplines are available from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm from Monday to Friday.
Learning English online
BBC Learning English
News, webcasts, quizzes and message boards for learners of English across the world, plus resources for teachers. On this website, you can communicate with other learners and teachers from around the world on the message boards. You can share your experiences of learning English with people all over the world; start your own topics or join in with others already running. If you have questions about the English language, you can ask them here and other users will answer them.You also have the opportunity to communicate with teachers, receive practical advice from them and rely on their assistance throughout the whole studying process.
Learn English with the BBC
Learn English or practise your skills online on the British Council Learn English website.
Learn English online with the British Council.
'Life in the UK' test
You have to take the 'Life in the UK' test if you're applying to be a British citizen, and your level of English is ESOL Entry 3 or above.
The test lasts 45 minutes, during which time the candidate is required to answer 24 multiple choice questions. To pass the test, the candidate must receive a grade of 75 percent or higher (at least 18 correct answers out of 24 questions). Testing is not directly administered by the UK Border Agency, but is carried out by Ufi Limited via a secure web connection. As of 1 June 2011, the cost of the test is GBP 50.
If your level of English is lower than ESOL Entry 3 and you wish to apply for naturalisation, you will need to attend combined English language (ESOL) and citizenship classes instead.
For advice on how to assess your level of English, phone the Careers Advice Service. Lines are open from 8.00 am to 10.00 pm, seven days a week. Careers Advice Service: 0800 100 900.
To talk to someone about the 'Life in the UK' test, call the 'Life in the UK' helpline. Lines are open from 8.00 am to 10.00 pm, seven days a week. 'Life in the UK' helpline: 0800 015 4245.
Find out more about the Life in the UK test
Here are more tips to help you improve your English. First of all, find a way to motivate yourself -- set a number of goals closely related to upgrading your language skills. Also, examine all types of English-for-foreigners courses and pick up the one that best suits your needs: 'Life in the UK', if you are going for a citizenship; ESOL, if you want to improve your chances of finding employment in the UK.
On the more practical side, try to choose listening and reading materials that relate to what you are interested in. Relate grammar to practical usage, and always speak aloud when you are learning -- that will considerably improve both your speaking and comprehension skills. Practise your newly acquired knowledge as often as you can -- and never be ashamed to speak.
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