ESOL: Our Calls for Change and the Evidence

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) can be the key to unlocking education, employment, and social integration for millions of people in the UK.

The context

  • In England and Wales, 5.1 million people don't have English as their main language (English or Welsh in Wales).
  • One in five of those who have English as a Second Language (ESL) – more than one third of whom are UK citizens – report not speaking English "well" or "at all".
  • ESL speakers face a range of language barriers to accessing their rights and entitlements, and to achieving their aspirations.
  • Demand for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) provision is rising. The number of ESOL learners increased by 17% from 2021-22.
  • Yet this is against a backdrop of decimated funding, with the Adult Education Budget (AEB) declining by 56% in real terms between 2009/10 and 2016/17.
  • Learners also face an ESOL “postcode lottery. For learners in some areas, suitable or sufficient ESOL provision is often out of reach. 

Our calls for change

Our latest policy briefings

Language is a key. If you can speak in one language, you have just one key. If you can more than one language, you have several keys to open the good ways in your life.

ESOL learner

For many speakers of English as a Second Language, effective language support is life-changing – the key to unlocking education, employment, and social integration. But there’s not enough of it and it isn’t always easy to access. We are calling for changes to remove the barriers to access and provide an ESOL curriculum that is fit for purpose. 

Diana Sutton, Director

Relevant blogs

The research evidence