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Whether moving to the UK for studies, for work or to seek asylum, one of the biggest obstacles to integration and acceptance in British society is the language barrier. If someone wants to find employment, take up studies, make friends or even simply visit the doctor or the post office, having a good level of English is essential.
Learning a new language can be a huge challenge, but that’s where Superprof comes in. We help to link up aspiring learners with ESOL accredited tutors in their area and at a price that they can afford.
‘ESOL’ stands for English for Speakers of Other Languages and refers to a specific type of language course. ESOL is a discipline in itself aimed specifically at non-native English speakers, so it’s very unlike the English that native speakers learn at school or college.
ESOL courses are aimed at building your practical understanding of English, that is, the language you use every day in the real word. The course often focuses on speaking and listening, but learners are also taught to read and write in English.
As ESOL is aimed at newcomers to the UK, courses often include lessons on British society and culture, helping students to understand what opportunities and services are available to them and how they can make use of them.
The demand for English language lessons for non-native speakers is huge, so it’s only natural that there’s a variety of courses available, each seemingly with its own acronym.
Three particularly common acronyms are EFL, ESL and ESOL:
Whether you call it ESL, ESOL, EFL or something else entirely, remember that everyone is working towards the same goal: to learn English and navigate society in an English-speaking country.
The main, most obvious reason to register for an ESOL course is to learn English, but each participant has their own motivation for doing so.
Although international students at university will have a high enough standard of English to pass their IELTS, they may well lack confidence in speaking and essay writing, or struggle to keep up with lectures. An ESOL course will give them the opportunity they need to speak English in a formative context, so that they can speak up the next time they have a lightbulb moment in a tutorial.
New arrivals in the UK might take an ESOL course to help them immerse themselves in British culture, both through language acquisition and developing their understanding of British society. Many ESOL classes also give advice on necessary administrative tasks that newcomers may not know about.
A non-native speaker with a good level of English may take an ESOL course in order to gain a qualification that they can put on their CV, reassuring prospective employers that their English cuts the mustard for the role in question.
Parents may choose to take an ESOL course so that they can engage with their children’s education by attending parents evenings and help their children with their homework. They may even wish to continue their own education or take up a hobby in the UK, the ESOL helps them to prepare for that.
When applying for citizenship in the UK, anyone whose English is below Entry Level 3 must do an ESOL test.
Specialist language schools and Further Education (FE) campuses are a popular option for many non-native English speakers looking to develop their language skills. The sizes of these establishments mean they can offer huge variety, from full-time courses to part-time hours that you can take alongside studies, work or childcare responsibilities. These organisations usually offer English language classes to speakers with all levels of English.
Many specialist schools and FE colleges offer courses that focus on different areas of language – depending on what your aspirations are. The ESOL: Work course is aimed at helping participants to get a job in Britain, whereas ESOL: Skills for Life teaches students how to talk to doctors and shopkeepers. For those whose main aim is to pass a test to claim residency in the UK, the ESOL: Citizenship syllabus is tailored towards succeeding in the exam. Some ESOL courses even teach mathematics to help non-native speakers to help them deal with money and finances.
FE colleges and specialist ESOL schools are ideal for those who enjoy learning in a group, classroom setting. Dependent on your personal circumstances, you may well qualify for a fee waiver too.
Rather than signing up for a course, many people prefer to learn at their own pace, from the comfort of the library or their own homes. Thanks to the internet, there’s a wealth of free online resources at their disposal.
The British Council provides a great selection of resources for non-native speakers looking to pick up basic English phrases and cultural information. These resources cover a huge range of subjects including vocabulary and grammar, general language skills (pronunciation, maths and numeracy), life in the UK (videos about different cities), and English for work. But although they’re excellent for individuals who prefer an informal learning style, these resources provide little opportunity for practising speaking skills and nothing in the way of feedback.
Distance learning courses offer home-based structured learning with opportunities for students to seek the feedback essential to improving their language skills, ideal for those who are comfortable speaking with a native English speaker, but not necessarily in a classroom setting. These courses have grown in popularity and in number thanks to an increasing need for language tuition in the UK. With no need for a physical classroom and less limitations of numbers of participants, distance learning courses are quite often a cheaper option for budding English speakers.
ESOL distance learning courses vary from one provider to another but in most cases students benefit from direct instruction and can interact with teachers and classmates located across the country. Whilst some courses run according to a schedule with weekly lessons and homework assignments, others are more flexible and students can complete assignments in their own time to fit in with other commitments.
Many distance learning courses offer a certificate of achievement upon completion, ideal for proving your English language skills to potential employers.
There are many benefits to learning as a group, meeting likeminded people for one, but there can be drawbacks too. Group sessions follow a set pace because tutors cannot adapt to the needs of each individual. This means some students are at risk of being left behind whereas others will be twiddling their thumbs waiting for their classmates to catch up. It’s also unlikely that the tutor will be able to consider each individual’s personal goals when planning their sessions, they must cater for the group as a whole.
If you’re looking for more tailored personal tuition, or you simply find learning in a group setting stressful, then studying ESOL with a private tutor is your best bet.
There are myriad benefits of working 1:1 with a private tutor. You can work at your own pace for one – the tutor will identify when you’re struggling and adapt their classes accordingly. Private tutors are also able to incorporate your interests and aspirations into your lessons to keep things interesting and make it feel more relevant to your situation.
Plus, what better speaking practice than talking 1:1 with your tutor?
It can be difficult to know where to look for a private tutors, especially if you’ve just arrived in a new country! You might want to try combing through local newspapers, community notice boards and gumtree listings… but it can be difficult to find adverts, let alone compare them! This is where Superprof comes in…
Superprof has over 35,000 tutors delivering ESOL lessons in the UK.
35,000? Sounds overwhelming… But don’t worry, you can filter through these tutors according to price, location and response time. Once you’ve got your results, it’s a simple task of comparing profiles. Each tutor provides their methodology, experience and any extra information that they think you’ll need to know and you can read recommendations from past students to get an idea of their teaching style. Finally, most tutors offer a first lesson for free so that you can work out if it’s a good fit.
Private tuition can take place in your home, your tutor’s workspace, or even by webcam over the internet. Find your tutor on Superprof today and start your ESOL journey – the sky’s the limit!