This page explains how you can take and pass an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course in English with citizenship to demonstrate your knowledge of language and life in the UK, before you apply for naturalisation as a British citizen.
If your English skills are below ESOL Entry 3 level (or Intermediate 1 level in Scotland), you must take this course and obtain a relevant qualification before you apply.
(If your English skills are at or above that level, you must take and pass the Life in the UK Test to demonstrate your knowledge of life in the UK. And if you completed an ESOL course in order to meet the ‘knowledge of language and life in the UK’ requirement when you applied for settlement in the UK, you will not need to show again that you meet this requirement.)
The Nationality Regulations for ESOL courses changed on 7 April 2010. If you want to demonstrate your knowledge of language and life with an ESOL qualification, you must now meet the following requirements:
- You must have attended your ESOL course at an accredited college.
- The course must have included citizenship materials derived from the document ‘Citizenship Materials for ESOL Learners’ (ISBN: 1-84478-5424).
- You must have obtained a relevant ESOL qualification from an approved awarding body.
- You must demonstrate that you have made relevant progress.
An ‘accredited college’ is:
- a publicly funded college that is subject to inspection by Ofsted (if it is in England), the Education and Training Inspectorate (Northern Ireland), HM Inspectorate of Education (Scotland), Estyn (Wales); or an inspection programme that has been approved by the Island’s Government (in the Channel Islands or Isle of Man): or
- a private college that has been accredited by Accreditation UK, the British Accreditation Council (BAC), the Accreditation Body for Language Services (ABLS) or the Accreditation Service for International Colleges (ASIC).
A ‘relevant ESOL qualification’ is:
- an ESOL qualification in speaking and listening at Entry 1, Entry 2 or Entry 3 level approved by the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual); or
- one National Qualifications Unit in ESOL at Access 2, Access 3 or Intermediate 1 level approved by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.
‘Approved awarding bodies’ in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are:
- Ascentis (formerly Open College of the Northwest)
- Cambridge ESOL
- City & Guilds (Pitmans)
- Education Development International (EDI)
- English Speaking Board (International) Limited
- Learning Resource Network
- National Open College Network
- Trinity College London
In Scotland, the only approved awarding body is the Scottish Qualifications Authority.
To demonstrate ‘relevant progress’, your college must confirm that you have progressed by at least one level from the level at which you were assessed at the beginning of the course that led to your relevant qualification. For example, if you were initially assessed by your college as being below Entry 1 level, you must obtain an ESOL (speaking and listening) qualification at Entry 1 level or above.
You should check with your college to ensure that it is accredited as described above, and that the course meets all of the above requirements. If your college is not accredited, or if the course does not meet all of the above requirements, your application will be refused. Your college should provide a letter confirming that the relevant criteria are met. You can download a template of this letter here. The college should also provide evidence to show how it meets the definition of an accredited college.
The UK Border Agency understands that some non-accredited colleges will be seeking accreditation. If you have successfully completed an ESOL course at a non-accredited college, you may want to wait until the college has become accredited before you apply for naturalisation. If the college was accredited when you received your qualification, but is no longer accredited, you will meet this requirement.