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ESB Entry Level Awards in ESOL Skills for Life (Entry 2)

Overview: ESB’s ESOL Skills for Life qualifications are designed for people, 16 years & over, who live, study or work in the UK.

ESB’s Entry Level Awards in ESOL Skills for Life (Entry 2) are aimed at learners who can read and understand short, straightforward texts on familiar topics and obtain information from short documents, familiar sources and signs and symbols. These qualifications are based on the National Standards for Adult Literacy and aligned to the Adult ESOL Core Curriculum. They are also regulated by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations (Ofqual) and Qualifications in Wales (QW).

ReadingWritingSpeaking & Listening
Assessment methodAssessment by external assessors
Accreditation start date1st of February, 2015
Cost per learner£14.00£14.00£41.00
Guided Learning Hours (GLH)6090120
Total Qualification Time (TQT)70100130
Qualification number601/5471/8601/5472/X601/5447/0
Age range14-16, 16-19, 19+
An ESB International learner may be anyone who speaks English as an acquired language, e.g.
  • a learner at an FE college or Local Authority learning centre
  • a learner in a community ESOL programme
  • a learner enrolled at university
  • a learner attending a private training organisation
  • a Job Centre Plus learner
  • a learner on a workplace learning course
  • a young learner on a discrete ESOL course
  • Reading

    The assessment is a 45-minute paper which consists of three tasks. Question types, text types and assessment criteria are listed in the Entry 2 Reading specification. To achieve a Pass, learners are required to achieve all the assessment criteria listed under Learning Outcomes 1-4 in the Entry 2 Reading Specification.


    The assessment is a 45-minute written paper which consists of three tasks. Tasks and assessment criteria are listed in the Entry 2 Writing Specification. To achieve a Pass, learners are required to achieve all the assessment criteria listed under Learning Outcomes 1-2 in the Entry 2 Writing Specification.

    Speaking & Listening

    The assessment is approximately 25 minutes. It is completed in pairs and consists of 4 sections:

    • Exchanging personal information
    • Giving an unprepared talk
    • Describing people, places and things
    • Listening to two short texts and taking part in a discussion

    To achieve a Pass, learners are required to achieve all the assessment criteria listed under Learning Outcomes 1-4 in the Entry 2 Speaking and Listening specification.


    There are 21 questions in the Entry 2 Reading Skills for Life paper. The questions may include:

    • Multiple-choice
    • Table completion
    • Matching exercises
    • Cloze
    • True/false answers
    • Yes/no answers

    The texts may be any of the following:

    • Simple narratives
    • Public signs and notices
    • Emails and letters
    • Notes and messages
    • Lists and forms, leaflets and posters

    Task One consists of a Form that is intended for an employer, organisation or official. It should be approximately 15 words in length.

    Task Two consists of a Note, Postcard, Message or Descriptive Text to be read by a friend/relative, neighbour or acquaintance. It should be approximately 60 words in length.

    Task Three consists of an Email, Note or Invitation to be read by any of an employer, organisation, friend/relative, neighbour or acquaintance. It should be approximately 70 words in length. 

    Task One requires the learners to ask their partner for personal information, such as where they live, where they come from and their likes and dislikes. The assessor will then encourage more discussion by asking questions about their responses (5 minutes).

    Task Two involves the assessor providing the learners a topic related to the learners’ everyday lives for discussion, such as hobbies/interest, likes and dislikes and friends and family. After one candidate answers, their partner two questions. (6 minutes)

    Task Three provides pictures to the learners to prompt a description and comparison. Each learner will describe and compare the pictures to their partner and the assessor. (4 minutes)

    Task Four introduces a listening exercise where the learners will listen to two very short monologues or dialogues and each learner will answer a yes/no question and a detail question. The process is the same for both texts. (10 minutes)

    What support is available to deliver Entry 2 Skills for Life assessments?

    ESB International offers a wide range of resources at Entry 2 designed for both ESOL Tutors to deliver effective learning for their groups and for learners to give them the English language skills they need to achieve their aspirations.

    We also offer support for centre organisers booking our assessments and tutors preparing both their learners and centre for assessment day.

    What funding is available to my centre to help deliver Entry 2 Skills for Life assessments

    We are incredibly passionate about providing accessible qualifications to as many learners as possible to enable them to fulfil their potential. We understand that in order to provide assessments for learners, centres may need an extra helping hand to assist them with the cost. We not only promote external funding options that centres may be able to utilise, but also provide financial support to centres through our Christabel Burniston Fund. To find out more, please use the links below.

    Frequently Asked Questions about our ESOL Skills for Life qualifications

    1. Do you have any qualifications for people who are just starting to learn English?

    Yes. We provide a Pre-Entry assessment in speaking and listening. This is a non-regulated qualification that is a stepping stone to the ESOL Skills for Life regulated qualifications. For many learners, it will be their first experience of an assessment in many years, and will be an opportunity for them to experience an external assessment in a supportive, positive environment.

    2. Does the Home Office recognise ESOL Skills for Life qualifications?

    No. The Home Office requires a Secure English Language Test (SELT) taken in a SELT centre. See here

    3. Where can I take an ESB ESOL Skills for Life assessment?

    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 International. This allows you more time for teaching and learning.

    4. What if my speaking skills are much stronger than my writing skills?

    That’s fine. If your centre allows it, you can enter for a writing Award at one level, and a Speaking and Listening Award at a higher level.

    5. Can I do the S&L assessment if I have a hearing / speaking / processing impairment?

    Yes! Learners with specific needs are able apply for reasonable adjustments to be made to the assessment. If you have any specific questions about reasonable adjustments, please email us. For further information about our policy in relation to access arrangements, please visit: our Reasonable Adjustments and Special Considerations Policy.

    6. Do your learners need prior knowledge, skills or experience to complete these qualifications?

    There are no prior learning or formal qualification requirements for ESB ESOL Skills for Life qualifications. Learners can be entered for the Speaking and Listening, Reading or Writing Awards appropriate for their ability and needs.