Skip to content

English – Essential Skills (including ESOL)

If you are aged 19 and over and do not have a GCSE in English at grade C (or equivalent), you can study an English course for free.

English courses can improve your communication skills, helping you progress in work and everyday life. Reading, writing, speaking and listening are all skills needed by employers, so boosting yours could help you take the next step to a better job. All courses lead to a recognised certificate, whether it is an entry-level course, or a level 1 or 2 course (equivalent to GCSE).

English courses for speakers of other languages (ESOL) are also available to help you get the essential skills needed for life and work in the UK, these courses are either free or part-funded.

Available to:

Adults living in England who do not have a GCSE in English at grade C (equivalent to grade 4 or CSE grade 1)


Around 3-6 months

Age restriction:

19 and over

Course type:



English - Essential Skills qualifications are free. ESOL courses may be free or part-funded depending on your level of income or employment status

How to apply:

Use the links below to find the right course for you.

About English essential skills qualifications:

English – Essential Skills are a Functional Skills Qualifications, which cover basic English to level 2 qualifications (equivalent to GCSE). 

If English isn’t your first language, courses for speakers of other languages (ESOL) will teach you essential skills in:

  • reading 
  • writing
  • speaking
  • listening 

These skills will help you with everyday life in the UK such as shopping, finding work or registering with a doctor. 

No matter what level you start at, all courses lead to a recognised certificate in English or English for speakers of other languages (ESOL).

Courses may be classroom-based and/or online. Depending on your local provider, full-time, part-time and evening classes may also be available.

How to apply

  1. Use the links provided to find the right course for you
  2. Contact the provider of the course to apply.

You can also contact your local authority or further education college to find out more about opportunities near you.

Advice and Guidance