English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

You will have the opportunity to develop your English speaking and listening, reading and writing skills for a variety of purposes, including employment, further study or communicating with English speaking friends and family.

The large range of ESOL provision meets the needs of the growing numbers of refugees and asylum seekers in the local community very well.<span class="su-quote-cite"><strong>Ofsted Report 2016</strong></span>
ESOL students develop effective speaking and listening skills over time. They develop these skills at a pace based on their individual needs, for example being able to book appointments and communicate with their children’s teachers.<span class="su-quote-cite"><strong>Ofsted Report 2022</strong></span>
Course Info
Do I have to pay a fee?
How to Apply
How Will I Learn?

The English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course is designed for people whose first language is not English, but who live or work permanently in the UK. The course gives you the opportunity to develop your grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, speaking, listening, reading and writing skills, as well as aspects of citizenship and employability. The ESOL qualification is recognised by the UK Border Agency for use to support Home Office applications for Settlement and British Citizenship.

Students will have regular progress tests throughout their studies and will have targets and tutorials with their tutor to discuss their learning and development.  Students are expected to complete homework every week and will be prepared for their exams. All students will take an exam or a summative assessment at the end of each enrolment.

When are the classes?     

Both day and evening classes are offered, with 6 hours’ per week, over two days.

Your course may also include up to 12 hours of classes taught by trainee teachers, guided by their trainers.


Students are prepared for nationally recognised ESOL Skills for Life examinations . The exams are offered at five different levels:

Entry 1, Entry 2, Entry 3, Level 1, Level 2.

Exam dates – January (Speaking & Listening), March (Reading) and June (Writing)

Course Levels

What level of English will I study?

Before you start a class you will be invited to college to take an assessment. The assessment will show us your level of English. You will be offered a place in the class best suited to your level if there are places available.

Part-timeA0Pre-EntryComplete Beginner
Part-timeB1E3Pre-Intermediate → Intermediate
Part-timeB2L1Intermediate → Upper Intermediate
Part-timeC1L2Upper Intermediate → Advanced

What exams will I take?    

Students are prepared for nationally recognised Trinity ESOL Skills for Life Speaking & Listening exams and Ascentis Reading, and Writing exams. The exams are offered at five different levels:  Entry 1, Entry 2, Entry 3, Level 1 and Level 2.

Entry Requirements

Entry to this course is dependent on the result of a written and oral assessment at the start of the course, and on the availability of places. The assessment will determine which class is the most suitable for you, and an individual learning plan will be agreed with the class tutor. The minimum age for enrolment on the part-time ESOL programme is 19 years old.

Additional Costs

Students will need a pen, notebook and folder, which they bring to every class. Some students can apply for a fee waiver if they receive benefits, earn under a certain amount, or if they are an asylum seeker. Students who do not receive a fee waiver will also need to pay for their course book.

What Can I Do Next?

These qualifications are nationally recognised and are welcomed by employers in the UK or by education establishments for further study.

Course progression includes further study in English, progression onto further and higher education at level 3 and above in a variety of subject areas, including Access to Higher Education, Business, IT, Construction, Hair and Beauty, and Creative Industries.

Further Information

How much will the course cost?

ESOL courses cost you less because the government pays part of your course.  For this reason, you MUST take an exam at the end of your course.

Enrolment 1 is for Speaking & Listening, and costs approximately £345 for 16 weeks of classes (September to January).

Enrolment 2 is for Reading, and costs approximately £165 for 9 weeks of classes (January to March).

Enrolment 3 is for Writing, and costs approximately £225 for 11 weeks of classes (April to June).

You will need to pay an extra £35 for a course book at the start of your course.

If you claim a Benefit

If you are in receipt of an income tested benefit the course may be cheaper or free. You will need to bring up to date evidence of the benefit you receive into college so that we can assess the fees you will need to pay. If you do not provide evidence then the full cost of the course must be paid.

Examples of benefits include Universal Credit, and ASPEN cards.

If you are under the age of 19 the course may be free; you need to show proof of your age.

If you work and earn under £18,525 a year, your course may be cheaper

If you pay for your studies

You should make full payment for the course when you register and before you attend class.  Alternatively, you can pay in instalments (plus an administrative charge), but you will be charged the full fee even if you do not complete the course. Failure to pay will result in you not being able to attend college and your place will be given to another person.

Information for Under 18s

Many students at Colchester Institute are under 18.  In the English Language department, we have a mixture: some students are under 18 and some are adults. Full- time students who are under 19 will be on a Stepping Up course, which is only for under 19s. We have a small number of part-time under 19 students- they may be in a class with some adult students. They will welcome you and help you with your studies. Your teachers will also work hard to keep you safe.

Commitment to Safeguarding

Colchester Institute believes the health and safety of all our students is important.  All of the English Language staff are trained to help keep students safe, happy and healthy in college.

Well-being and keeping safe

Bullying [using words or actions to make someone feel bad] is not allowed in the college.  The College is committed to making our classes a place where all students are respected and where bullying is not allowed.  If a student has a problem or complaint, we will listen to them and work to solve the problem quickly and fairly.

What should I do if I have a problem?

If a student has a problem or complaint they should speak to their teacher or the Student Services Welfare Team (Ground Floor, next to Reception, Colchester Institute). At The College at Braintree, please go to Reception. Student Services are very good at solving students’ problems.

We hope you will enjoy your studies with us and that you will always feel safe and happy to study here.

Funding for this course can be complicated and depends on a number of things: your age; the programme that you want to study; the qualifications that you already have and in some cases your income or benefit entitlements. It can also vary depending on the outcome of a Funding Assessment, which you will be asked to complete once you have applied for the course.

At Colchester Institute we have staff in the Student Finance team who can talk to you individually about your options and signpost you to further information. The following might be helpful to get you started, but feel free to contact us if you have any questions:

Aged 19+ - Fees and Funding

If you are aged 19 and over, in certain circumstances you may be eligible for a fee waiver and therefore you will not have to pay for your course. 

Eligibility for a fee waiver will depend your age at the start of the course, your previous qualifications, your employment status and whether you claim certain benefits.

If you do not meet the criteria for a fee waiver, you may be eligible for some assistance from the College’s Bursary Funds, depending on the household financial circumstances.

If you do not meet the criteria for a fee waiver, and are not eligible for assistance from the Bursary Fund, you will have to pay for this course.

This programme may be free if you meet the eligibility criteria listed below. If these do not apply, you will need to pay a fee, and the published fee is located further down the course information page. 

I am unemployed - Do I have to pay a fee?

The UK Government will fully fund ESOL learning up to and including level 2 for individuals aged 19 and over on the day they start their ESOL learning aim where they meet the definition of unemployed shown below:

  • receive Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), including those receiving National Insurance credits only
  • receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • receive Universal Credit (UC), and their take-home pay as recorded on their UC statement (disregarding UC payments and other benefits) is less than £494 a month (learner is sole adult in their benefit claim) or £782 a month (learner has a joint benefit claim with their partner)
  • are released on temporary licence, studying outside a prison environment, and not funded by the Ministry of Justice

Providers may also use their discretion to fully fund other learners if both of the following apply. The learner:

  • receives other state benefits (not included in the list above) and their take-home pay (disregarding UC payments and other benefits) is less than £494 a month (learner is sole adult in their benefit claim) or £782 a month (learner has a joint benefit claim with their partner), and
  • wants to be employed, or progress into more sustainable employment, and their take-home pay (disregarding UC payments and other benefits) is less than £494 a month (learner is sole adult in their benefit claim) or £782 a month (learner has a joint benefit claim with their partner), and you are satisfied identified learning is directly relevant to their employment prospects and the local labour market needs

I am in receipt of a low income - Do I have to pay a fee?

The UK Government will fully fund ESOL learning up to and including level 2 for individuals aged 19 and over on the day they start their ESOL learning aim where the learner is employed and meets the low wage threshold shown below:

  • eligible for co-funding, and
  • earns less than £18,525 annual gross salary


Payment Options

Payment should be made in full at the time of enrolment. Acceptable payment methods include Debit Card and Credit Card (excluding American Express). Please note that we are no longer able to accept cash or cheque payments.

Can I pay in instalments?

Yes, you can spread the cost of fees. Any student of the College who pays his/her own programme costs is entitled to do so on a monthly payment plan basis, providing the total course fees exceed £200 and the student is aged 19 years, or over, on 31st August in the current academic year.

Where total course fees exceed £200 you (or your employer, if they are paying your course fees) can choose to pay your fees in instalments through a monthly payment plan and 40% of the fee or £500 (whichever is lower) will be payable at enrolment.

The balance must be paid within 6 months or by the end date if the course is less than 6 months in duration.

The monthly instalment payments will also be set up at the point of enrolment, or if you are enrolling using our online enrolment process, a member of our Finance team will contact you to set up the instalment plan after you have submitted your online enrolment.

In order to pay through monthly instalments, students must sign the Colchester Institute Instalment Payment Plan terms and conditions!

If a student fails to sign up to an instalment plan at enrolment all fees will become due for payment within 30 days.

Failure to fulfil any terms and conditions of an instalment agreement will result in you becoming immediately liable for the full outstanding balance and you may not be entitled to pay any future fees by instalments.

Please download and save the form below, then fill it in and sign it. These forms can either be emailed to registry@colchester.ac.uk prior to enrolment, or if you are completing an online enrolment you can upload these documents during the enrolment process.

Further Education Fee Instalment Student Terms and Conditions

Employers who are funding a student’s fees must complete and sign an authorisation form which must be submitted either prior to or at enrolment together with an advance payment of 40% of the course fee or £500, whichever is lower. This can be paid via the online store prior to or at the point of Enrolment.

If the advance payment is not made prior to or at Enrolment the student will not be eligible to attend college.

Further Education Employer Authorisation Form, Instalment Plan, Terms and Conditions

Please note that due to high demand, spaces are limited and you are likely to be offered a place for programmes starting in January 2024 or April 2024.

To apply to study an English Language programme with us you will need to complete the application form in the next menu.

English Language courses can start at various points during the year and can be studied on a part-time (3 or 6 hours per week) basis depending on what suits you, your schedule and your needs.

Applicants will receive an acknowledgement email or card within one week of the application being received by our Admissions team, if you do not receive this you should contact the team to check that your application has been received. Courses will run subject to sufficient applications being received.

If you have any further questions about the application process or next available start date, want to check the progress of your application or if you are unsure about anything please contact us using the enquiry line or enquiry form buttons in the next menu.

If you are ready to apply then please click the ‘Part-time English Language Application Form’ Button in the menu below to fill in the application form.

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

To apply for the course, please click ‘Apply Now’ and then ‘Create an Account’.

Study ModePart-Time
Campus / Adult Skills CentreColchester Campus
Braintree Campus
Start DateSeptember - January
January - March
April - June
Attendance6 hours per week*
We offer morning, afternoon or evening classes.
Fee(s)16+: Variable


All fees, prices and funding information shown on this page are for courses starting in the 2023-24 academic year unless stated otherwise, and are correct at the time of entering/printing information, however these may be subject to change due to factors outside of our control. The College cannot accept legal or financial liability as a result of any such changes.

Courses fees are generally not confirmed for September until June / July due to the above factors.

The course information describes programmes offered by Colchester Institute. The College takes all reasonable steps to provide courses as described, but cannot guarantee provision. The information is for guidance and does not form any part of a contract.

The College reserves the right to update and amend information as and when necessary. Colchester Institute will do its best to provide the courses shown, but may have to modify or withdraw a course depending on customer demand and other factors.