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Section 1. ESOL policy and national context

Skills for Life: Changing lives, the government's updated Skills for Life strategy (2009) sets out the challenges to improve the nation’s literacy, numeracy and language skills.  The strategy outlines the priority learner groups which include ESOL.

What is ESOL?

There is a long and rich history of teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages in the UK. The need arose due to a series of migrations, particularly from the 1870s onwards, as a result of which ESOL today is characterised by its heterogeneity which makes it very different from the context in which English as a Foreign Language (EFL) is taught worldwide.

The resources below provide more information.

Breaking the Language Barriers – August 2000
This is the report of the working group on English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). It explains the range of learners, identifies the scale of need and makes recommendations.

NRDC Special Report: ESOL. Reflect online, Issue 10 (March 2008)
There are a number of articles reviewing the recent changes in ESOL and different kinds of provision.
This is a particularly useful resource for tutors who have a background in EFL (English as a Foreign Language), and who are new to teaching ESOL learners in the UK.

Adult ESOL Core Curriculum
The Core Curriculum describes the content of what should be taught in ESOL programmes and sets out a clear set of skills required to meet national standards.

What is the 'New Approach to ESOL'?

A New Approach to ESOL sets out the Government’s approach to prioritising ESOL funding to settled communities. It aims to strengthen the role of ESOL in supporting community cohesion and social integration. It sets out the characteristics of individuals who should be prioritised for ESOL provision and outlines a partnership approach to planning for this, led by local authorities. 

Implementing the New Approach to ESOLprovides advice and information on how to prioritise provision locally, involve local authorities in determining these priorities and support providers already working in this area.

Focusing ESOL on Community Cohesion is a report of consultations on the new approach.

ESOL and citizenship

Learners from outside the European Union or European Economic Area may need to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK or for citizenship. If learners are assessed at pre-entry to Entry Level 2 this involves studying in ESOL classes with content from the ‘Citizenship materials for ESOL learners’ pack. They will need to achieve a speaking and listening ESOL qualification at a level higher than the one at which they were initially assessed. Learners assessed at Entry 3 to Level 2 have to pass the ‘Life in the UK Test’. This Home Office UK Border Agency document gives information on changes to the knowledge of language and life’requirement for settlement (7 April 2010).