Click here to read our Autumn/Winter edition of ESB News!

ESOL Skills for Life

So, you are interested in our ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Skills for Life qualifications for your learners. 

Here at ESB, our ESOL Skills for Life qualifications which include speaking and listening, reading and writing assessments are designed for individuals, above the age of 16 years, who live, study or work in the United Kingdom and who wish to develop their English Language skills. We promote and assess English language in a wide range of educational centres.

Learn more about the skills your learners can develop, the outcomes they can expect and the captivating ESB experience that awaits them on this page!


Our ESOL assessments facilitate language development to help learners obtain the vital skills that support engagement in daily life activities, develop further learning and independence, and gain or progress to meaningful and sustainable employment. Our assessments enable learners to become competent core language skills; reading, writing and speaking and listening. Once they possess the language skills needed to socialise with others in different contexts or access services otherwise unknown to them, the world will be their oyster!


Coming away with a whole list of new-found skills is something ESB prides itself on – but what is it actually like to do an ESB Assessment? Well, the overriding message that we hear from our learners, teachers and tutors is …….. it’s a whole lot of fun!

Time after time, learners come out of their assessment saying, ‘Can I do that again please?’ To hear that comment is music to our ears as we are passionate about providing not only a beneficial experience – but a rewarding one. Set in a group context, to facilitate listening and responding, our assessments are tailored to the individual. 

Here are just some benefits of the ESB experience:

Flexible bookings

Assessments can be booked at a time and date to suit you. Speaking and Listening assessments can be booked up to four weeks in advance, and Reading and Writing assessments can be booked up to 48 hours before the assessment date.

Learner focused

All our assessments are built with the learners’ interests at heart. Assessments are carried out in pairs, so your learners will feel comfortable and well-supported.

Fantastic assessors

Our team of flexible assessors come from all walks of life but they share a common goal – to bring out the very best in every learner. Sympathetic to each individual’s background and situation, from the moment an assessor meets your learners, provision for ongoing support and encouragement is given. Their input is invaluable to the overall ESB experience. They are annually standardised to make sure that their marking is consistent and that they bring to every assessment session a passion for ESB’s core values of providing supportive and enjoyable assessments.

Fast results turnaround

We make it a priority to send results and certificates out to centres quickly. Results are accessible in a master document. Our turnaround for results is five working days, or ten working days in our Peak Periods (May, June and July).

External assessments

Speaking and Listening assessments take place at your centre and are delivered by our team of supportive, experienced assessors. Reading and Writing assessments are also completed at your centre and sent to be marked by ESB. This gives you more time for teaching, and you can rest assured that your learners will be assessed accurately according to ESB criteria.

Personalised reports

Every Speaking and Listening learner receives a written report with personalised feedback about their performance.

Let the ESB experience enrich your learners’ lives and give them the opportunity to shine!


  • Access to higher skilled jobs
  • Receive a full recognised certificate
  • Improve written and spoken English
  • Effective use of practical, everyday language
  • Further integration into the community

We have an accessible suite of qualifications from Entry 1 to Level 2 to boost your learners’ progression and employability.

Our ESOL Skills for Life qualifications are a clear path for English language success and are available at five different levels. Any level may be selected depending on your learners’ needs.  Each level builds, step by step, on their development from the previous level. Online resources and sample materials are also available to guide and support teachers throughout the ESB experience.

ESOL Skills for Life Progression Ladder

Frequently Asked Questions for Language Centres

Below are some frequently asked questions about our Language qualifications, including important information about booking your assessments, preparing your learners and the assessments themselves.

1. What is the minimum advanced booking period?

The minimum advanced booking period is 28 days for ESOL Speaking and Listening assessments and 2 days for Reading and Writing assessments.

2. Can I amend my booking if circumstances have changed since I made it?

We pride ourselves on our flexibility at ESB and recognise that there may be the need to make alterations even after the learners’ names and details have been uploaded to My ESB. Centres are able to modify the following to their existing booking: the qualification(s), date/time, number of sessions and number of learners. Please be aware that charges may apply depending at what time the amendments are made (to find out more, visit our prices page) and that substantial amendments that require reassignment of assessors may not be possible. Please note that assessors have no authority to sanction changes and cannot enter learners on the day of the assessment or change the level at which they have been entered.

3. Does a member of my centre’s staff need to be in attendance for the assessment?

A centre-approved adult must be present for an assessment with learners under the age of 18 or with vulnerable adults. Please refer to our Safeguarding Procedure on our website referring to working with children, young people and vulnerable adults to verify the instances when an approved adult is required. This information is also in your Centre Handbook.

4. Do my learners need to show ID if they are over 18? Who checks this at ESB?

It is the centre’s responsibility to check that each learner over the age of 18 presents photo ID on the day of the assessment. It is not the assessor’s responsibility to check learners’ ID. Acceptable forms of identification include a passport or other photo ID issued by a government or local authority, a photo driving licence or a UK Armed Forces photo ID card. Learners who fail to provide ID should not be prevented from sitting their assessment, but they will not be resulted until valid ID is confirmed by your centre.

5. Do I need to import my learners’ details onto My ESB prior to the assessment start date?

Centres must import their learner details onto MyESB prior to the assessment date. It is important to enter all learner names as they should appear on the certificate. Failure to do this correctly may incur a charge after certification.

6. Should I contact the assessor before the assessment date?

A centre organiser or tutor should contact their assessor in advance of the assessment to confirm start time and to finalise details such as directions, parking, etc. This is an opportunity for the organiser to clarify any questions they may have about the assessment and to provide any informal information that the assessor may need to be aware of.

7. Do my learners need their Unique Learner Numbers?

All learners entered for an assessment at a state-funded school/college in England need a Unique Learning Number (ULN). The ULN is a 10-digit number unique to every learner and can be obtained by schools/colleges from the Learning Records Service (LRS). ULNs are not mandatory for private learners or students who are under the age of 14, attend schools/colleges outside of England or attend non-state funded (independent) schools or colleges. For more information, please visit the LRS and Department for Education (DfE) website.

8. Can a learner who missed their assessment through illness re-apply?

A centre can make an application on behalf of a learner who missed their assessment due to illness for re-entry within six months of the original assessment for half the normal fee of that assessment. The application must be made within 30 days of the original assessment date and include a medical certificate, along with the learner’s details, and be sent to our Customer Experience Team. Please refer to our Absence Through Illness Policy.

9. When will I receive my learners’ results?

You will receive your learners Reading and Writing or Speaking and Listening results 5 working days after the receipt of the final assessment papers from your centre to ESB. However, during the peak period of 1st May – 31st August, Reading and Writing results will be issued 10 working days after the receipt of the final assessment papers from your centre to ESB.

10. Can I appeal a learner/group of learners’ results?

If a centre is dissatisfied with results awarded to a learner/group of learners, they should raise an enquiry with our Customer Experience Team. The enquiry should never be made to the assessor directly and should be made within 15 working days of receiving their results. To find out how ESB manages centre enquiries, please refer to our Enquiries, Complaints and Appeals Policy.

11. When will I receive my learners’ certificates?

All successful learners receive a certificate. Certificates will be dispatched to centres within 10 working days of reports/results being issued. To allow for sampling and standardisation procedures, results cannot be regarded as final until confirmed by certification.

12. Can I request replacement certificates for my learners?

A centre may request a replacement certificate for their learners if they have lost or damaged their certificate. Please refer to our Replacement Certificate Policy.

13. How do I apply for a Reasonable Adjustment for my learners?

If you would like to apply for a Reasonable Adjustment for your learners, please select the Reasonable Adjustment when you register your learners on My ESB. Keep a copy of the evidence in case we request it for an audit. If you have any queries regarding reasonable adjustments application, please refer to our Reasonable Adjustments and Special Considerations Policy available on the website.

14. How do I apply for a Special Consideration for my learners?

If you would like to apply for a Special Consideration for your learners, a Special Consideration Form can be downloaded from our website. If you have any queries regarding the Special Considerations application, please refer to our Reasonable Adjustments and Special Considerations Policy available on the website.

15. Speaking and Listening assessments are carried out in pairs. What happens if I have an odd number of learners?

You will need to timetable a ‘dummy’ candidate to make up the pair. This should be a learner who has already taken their assessment at the same level. In the unlikely event that there is no ‘dummy’ available please speak to your assessor who will be able to work with you for the best solution.

16. We have female learners who cover their faces. Do they have to uncover for the Speaking and Listening assessments?

No. It is the centre’s responsibility to ensure the learner’s identity and the assessment will take place as normal.

17. How do we work out the timetable for the Speaking and Listening assessments?

Use the guided time for each assessment in the qualification specification but please do add in at least another five minutes between each pair to allow for changeover of learners and introductions. Liaise with your assessor to arrange any break times.

18. Can a learner use pen and paper during the Speaking and Listening assessments?

Yes. Centres should provide pen and paper for learners which they can use throughout the assessment, as necessary. Centres are advised to discourage learners from making excessive notes as this does affect their communicative / listening skills.

19. How many questions should learners ask in the Speaking and Listening assessment for Task 1?

There is not a set number of questions. It is very dependent on the complexity of the questions and the confidence in which candidates ask them. The assessor may prompt for additional questions if necessary or, equally, thank candidates for their questions and move on.

20. Do learners at Level 1 and Level 2 need to use visual aids?

No. This is not mandatory, but some learners like to use VAs as a prompt for the content. Also, effective use of VAs can add interest to a talk and help clarify points made.

21. Can learners use prompt cards for their prepared talk?

Bullet point notes are acceptable, but these must be shown to the assessor before the talk. However, it is advisable to prepare learners not to use notes as they do tend to affect fluency.

22. Can Level 1 and Level 2 learners stand for their presentation?

If they feel more comfortable presenting in this way then this is perfectly acceptable. It is not necessary, however.

In this section