Different types of ESOL courses

A guide to ESOL classes and levels

There are lots of different types of ESOL courses you can take. When you have an ESOL advice session, we will talk to you about the best type of class for your situation and needs. Many of these classes are online and some are also in the classroom.

NQF Level CEFR SQA (ESOL) Cambridge Trinity IELTS Band
Pre-Entry National 1
Entry 1 A1 National 2
Entry 2 A2 National 3 KET 0 3
Entry 3 B1 National 4 PET 1 4
Level 1 B2 National 5 FCE 11 5.5
Level 2 C1 National 6 CAE 111 6.
Person studying on a laptop
Person being interviewed for a job

ESOL for work

If you are looking for work or want to make progress in your job, there are courses to help you. You will gain a better understanding of what it is like to work in the UK and knowledge of what an employer is looking for. Many of the courses will support you to find the right job, write your CV and job applications, and prepare for job interviews.

Everyday English

You will learn vocabulary and grammar for everyday situations in your life in the UK. These classes will help you to develop your overall skills in communication, as well as reading and writing. Some colleges will also give you the opportunity to go on class trips to places, such as museums and art galleries, to learn and practise your English outside of the classroom.

Group of learners chatting around a table with paper and latops
Learners taking a formal exam

Exam classes

Some English courses can also give you the chance to achieve a qualification, which you might need to get a job or for further education opportunities. 

Functional Skills and ESOL Skills for Life are exams in speaking and listening, reading, and writing, where you can demonstrate that you have the English skills for real-life situations in the UK.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

IELTS stands for “International English Language Testing System,” which is an qualification you can take if you want to apply for university in the UK. It tests your reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in an academic setting, to check that you have the necessary vocabulary and English skills to study at a higher level institution. Some employers might also ask you to take IELTS and it might also be a requirement for some types of UK visa too.  Visit the British Council website for more information about the IELTS exam. 

There are many centres in Manchester that offer IELTS preparation courses, which you can take to get ready for the exam.

Group of learners around a table with an IELTS document
Shadows of people in front of UK flag

Secure English Language Test (SELT)

If you need to demonstrate your level of English for your citizenship application or for settlement in the UK, you will need to take a Secure English Language Test (SELT). The test you take will depend on your visa requirements. Read the GOV.UK website to find out which test you need to take and to find your nearest approved test centre.

There are some colleges and centres that provide courses to help you prepare for your SELT test. These are the colleges in Greater Manchester where you can take a course:

Conversation classes

Conversation classes are a great way to practise your speaking and listening skills, as well as develop your vocabulary, in a friendly relaxed environment. 

Small group of learners having an informal conversation around a table
A father and young son doing homework together

ESOL for parents

If you have children up to the age of 16, there are classes for you to improve your English to support them with their education and development. It gives you the opportunity to learn about the UK education system, helping with homework, and also you will develop your confidence to communicate with teachers and other practitioners.

ESOL with other subjects

Many centres offer other courses in addition to ESOL to improve your confidence and well-being, to develop skills to find a job, as well as to integrate into the community. During your ESOL advice session, you can share with us your hobbies and interests and tell us about your future goals, so we can offer you an opportunity to take another course along with developing your English skills.


Small group of learners in a classroom with laptops
Three people together studying online using a laptop


56 Acres Road, Manchester M21 9EB 

Tel: 07970 267851 

Email: mswpublicity@readeasy.org.uk 

Read Easy is a national charity that teaches adults to read. We train reading coaches to work with readers and all sessions are one-to-one, free and confidential, held in local venues at a time to suit the reader. They operate in Trafford and Wythenshawe. Visit their website for more information.

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