English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

Learning English in order to cope at work and in everyday life in the UK is important to those whose first language is not English. It is important that people in the workplace can communicate in spoken and written English.

The provision of courses and learning in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) is therefore paramount to ensure both workers and employers fully understand their roles and responsibilities and contribute to running a successful business.

It is worth the employers' while to invest in ESOL learning to ensure that employees can fulfil their potential and benefit the business as well.

ESOL courses cover:

  • speaking and listening,
  • reading and writing,
  • vocabulary,
  • punctuation and grammar.

Union Learning Reps (ULRs) often need to look into supporting learners in getting ESOL learning. This may include engaging the employer, local colleges and course providers.


Unionlearn and the British Council, with support of unions, have produced an interactive module for union reps on English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) in the workplace. This is a self-study module that aims to help union reps think of how to build ESOL awareness and develop learning opportunities.

The British Council's ESOL Nexus website offers more activities and information about improving English language skills and living and working in the UK.

The TUC has produced an online guide, Working in the UK, in 13 languages, including Polish, Bulgarian and Romanian, to help combat the exploitation of migrant workers, so that everyone is treated fairly.