LanguageCert is an Ofqual recognised Awarding Organisation responsible for the development and award of language qualifications. LanguageCert’s mission is to offer high quality language qualifications that are truly fit-for purpose for the markets/candidates they serve. LanguageCert International ESOL Qualifications are regulated by Ofqual.
1. ESOL Qualifications
ESOL International qualifications are designed for candidates who are not native speakers of English and who wish to achieve a high quality, internationally recognised qualification in English that is available and recognised worldwide and at the highest level (RQF level 3 / CEFR C2). They are suitable for candidates who are preparing for entry to higher education, or professional employment in the UK or elsewhere, or for candidates who need to demonstrate that they have met the required level of English by passing a test with a Home Office approved Secure English Language Testing (SELT) provider. ESOL International qualifications are designed to reference the descriptions of language proficiency in the Common European Framework Reference for Languages (CEFR). The levels in the CEFR have been mapped to the levels in the Regulated Qualifications Framework for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (see Pathways to Proficiency: the alignment of language proficiency scales for assessing competence in English Language DFES / QCA, 2003).
1.1 The International ESOL (Listening, Reading, Writing) qualification handbook
The LanguageCert International ESOL qualification handbook provides a comprehensive introduction to the LanguageCert suite of International ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) qualifications and their associated examinations. The aim of this handbook is to provide information and advice for users of LanguageCert’s qualifications, inclusive of all existing and potential centres offering the LanguageCert International ESOL qualifications (Listening, Reading and Writing). This handbook also serves as a reference point for teachers who prepare their candidates for the LanguageCert International ESOL examinations. Separate qualification handbooks have been produced for the International ESOL (Speaking) qualifications, and for the International ESOL (Speaking & Listening) qualifications. If required, for further advice and/or guidance that may be required, LanguageCert can be contacted using the LanguageCert “Contact us Guide”.
1.2 International ESOL Qualifications
International ESOL (Listening, Reading, Writing)
This range of qualifications offers a communicative approach to the testing of Listening, Reading and Writing at six levels. The names used for each level of the LanguageCert International ESOL qualifications and each level’s correspondence to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) and UK national levels are shown in the table below. Please note that, in addition to the standard IESOL examination, a SELT (Secure English Language Test) variant is available at the Mastery level.
Total Qualification Time (TQT) and Guided Learning Hours (GLH)
The term ‘Guided Learning Hours’ is defined as the hours of guided learning under the immediate guidance or supervision of a lecturer, supervisor, tutor or other appropriate provider of education or training. ‘Total Qualification Time’ is the number of notional hours which represent an estimate of the total amount of time that could reasonably be expected to be required in order for a Learner to achieve and demonstrate the achievement of the level of attainment necessary for the award of a qualification. With regard to Guided Learning Hours, LanguageCert is consistent with CEFR references which assign approximate values to levels of ESOL qualifications. As highlighted by the Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE), as a Learner advances up the levels, the number of hours to attain each level increases, this being evidence of the continual nature of language learning.
Please note that the above figures are estimates of numbers of hours a Learner is reasonably likely to undertake with reference to each respective level of the qualification, not cumulative estimates across levels.
LanguageCert liaises with its centres and users to ensure that appropriate and consistent numbers of study hours are assigned to its qualifications. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is not applicable to the suite of International ESOL qualifications.
1.3 Introduction to International ESOL
The aim of the LanguageCert International ESOL qualifications is to demonstrate a candidate’s ability to communicate using the English language across the CEFR levels from A1 (Entry 1) to C2 (Level 3).
The LanguageCert International ESOL qualifications offer a comprehensive test of Listening, Reading and Writing skills in English. The tasks in the examinations are designed to test the use of English in real-life situations. The ESOL series of graded examinations provides ‘steps up the ladder’ of proficiency and can motivate candidates who are attending courses over a long period to continue their studies. They are also suitable for candidates attending short courses in English. The LanguageCert International ESOL (Speaking) qualifications are also suitable for those who need to demonstrate that they have met the required level of English by passing a test with a UK Home Office approved Secure English Language Testing (SELT) provider.
These qualifications and associated examinations have been mapped to the levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
Who are the LanguageCert International ESOL qualifications intended for?
The overall objective of the LanguageCert International ESOL qualifications is to provide candidates with a qualification that they can use where the ability to speak, write and understand verbal and written English is required. The qualifications are suitable for:
Non-native speakers of English worldwide.
Young people or adults attending an English course either in the UK or overseas.
Students learning English as part of their school or college curriculum.
People needing English for their everyday or working life.
Learners who require externally recognised certification of their command of the English language.
Those who are attending courses over a period and require a series of graded examinations which provide steps up the ladder of English language proficiency.
Learners attending short courses in English.
Visa applicants who need to demonstrate that they have met the required level of English by passing a test with a UK Home Office approved Secure English Language Testing (SELT) provider.
There are no other qualifications that a candidate must achieve prior to taking a LanguageCert International ESOL qualification.
There are no prior learning requirements that candidates must achieve/have prior to taking the LanguageCert International ESOL qualifications, however it is important that centres offer candidates the most appropriate LanguageCert International ESOL qualification, depending on each candidate’s ability and needs.
Why take LanguageCert International ESOL qualifications?
Flexible Examination Dates
Centres or LanguageCert regional offices are in control of scheduling the date and time of the examinations and can hold examinations whenever it is suitable for them.
Integrity of total external assessment
All exams are externally set and are assessed by a closed group of markers at LanguageCert, regularly standardised through training to ensure consistency and objectivity of assessment that is benchmarked against the CEFR.
LanguageCert is an Awarding Organisation recognised and regulated by Ofqual. Ofqual is a nonministerial government department that regulates qualifications, exams and tests in England. Ofqual is independent of government and reports directly to Parliament.
UK Home Office Recognition
LanguageCert is authorized by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), to deliver Home Office approved, Secure English Language Tests (SELTs) in the UK and globally. UKVI is the part of the Home Office which runs the UK’s visa service. LanguageCert’s SELTs are a secure, reliable, trusted and attractive choice for candidates applying for UK visas where English language ability must be demonstrated.
LanguageCert’s International English Qualifications (IEQs) are quality English language exams recognised by employers, educational institutions and professional bodies worldwide for both academic progression and employment.
The tasks are sufficiently universal to suit all language learning styles and preparation methods.
Exam content authentically replicates real-life English in use. All efforts are made to minimise bias, including statistical analysis methods.
Levels and duration of the exam
The levels chart below shows the six levels of the International ESOL (Listening, Reading and Writing) qualifications and the duration of each associated examination. All examinations test listening, reading and writing skills.
Qualification Titles: LanguageCert Level 2 Certificate in ESOL International (Listening, Reading, Writing) (Expert C1).
Duration for Listening: About 30 minutes.
Duration for Reading and Writing: 2 hours 40 minutes.
1.4 Qualification titles
Qualification Title: LanguageCert Level 2 Certificate in ESOL International (Listening, Reading, Writing) (Expert C1).
Ofqual Qualification Numbers: 603/1963/X
The full qualification titles identify the level of each qualification inclusive of the LanguageCert, CEFR, England and Wales levels.
The name of each examination and appropriate CEFR Level appear on each certificate.
1.5 CEFR and alignment of International ESOL to the CEFR
The six levels of the LanguageCert International ESOL qualifications are linked to those of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages1 developed by the Council of Europe.
The comparative levels chart below shows how the levels relate to each other.
Common European Framework: C1 Effective Operational Proficiency.
Equivalent UK national levels (England and Wales): Level 2.
1.6 Descriptions of competence at each level
Can understand a wide range of demanding longer texts, both written and spoken, and recognise implicit meaning.
Can use the language fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.
Can respond to extended information and narratives, follow detailed explanations and complex instructions, adapting response to audience, medium and context.
Can engage in discussion in a variety of situations making clear and effective contributions.
Can use language flexibly and understand a range of texts of varying complexity and length for social, academic and professional purposes.
Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.
Can communicate ideas and opinions effectively, using length, format and style appropriate to purpose, content and audience.
1.7 Format and features of International ESOL suite of examinations
The Syllabi show the standards which a learner must achieve to gain a pass in each of the six levels of the examination. For each level, Preliminary to Mastery, the standards are shown for Listening, Reading and Writing. The standards must be read in conjunction with the sections showing the grammar tested at each level and the functions and topics used and tested at each level. These follow the set of standards for each level. The standards set out in the following pages are cumulative. That is, an A2 candidate, for example, will be able to carry out the standards set out for A1 and A2. Similarly, a C2 candidate will be able to meet the standards of all lower levels (A1 – C1) in addition to the C2 standards.
2.1 Expert level – C1
The candidate will be able to:
Follow extended speech delivered at natural speed even when it is not clearly structured and when the meaning may be implicit rather than explicit.
Follow short conversations both formal and informal in a range of situations, understanding gist, context, purpose, function, attitude, feelings, opinions and relationships.
Understand complex narratives, sequences and explanations.
Recognise the function of short utterances which may contain idiomatic English (see Grammar and Functions sections).
Follow a discussion to identify gist, detail, purposes and key ideas and distinguish
between fact and opinion.
Extract and reproduce key information from announcements, media broadcasts, presentations and lectures on abstract and concrete topics of general interest.
Follow a complex argument.
The candidate will be able to:
Consistently recognise how intonation, pitch and/or stress affect meaning.
Consistently recognise feelings, moods, attitudes, important points and opinions expressed through stress, pitch and intonation.
The candidate will be able to:
Understand ideas, arguments and descriptions expressed through a wide range of complex grammatical structures
understand a broad range of vocabulary including idiomatic and colloquial expressions.
The candidate will be able to:
Consistently recognise degrees of formality in different types of utterances used by
speakers in a wide range of situations.
The candidate will be able to:
Understand the main ideas of extended discourse even when the content is not clearly structured.
The candidate will be able to:
Extract most points of detail even from extended discourse on both concrete and abstract topics even when the content is not clearly structured.
The candidate will be able to:
Understand long complex texts, appreciating distinctions in style and purpose.
Understand texts from authentic sources, identifying context, content and style.
Understand the main ideas of complex text on a wide range of texts on a wide range of professional, academic and social topics.
Gather specific information from different parts of a text or from different texts.
Understand descriptions and narratives in which language is used to create different sophisticated effects.
Understand lengthy texts containing complex instructions or explanations including technical or specialist texts such as instruction manuals and articles.
Understand texts concerned with contemporary issues in which the writers adopt particular viewpoints, identifying finer points of attitude and implied, as well as stated, opinions.
The candidate will be able to:
Recognise how textual features are used to achieve purposes in a wide range of texts including those containing images, graphical and tabular data.
Understand the different ways in which meaning is built up in a range of texts of varying complexity
Understand a range of logical markers and sequence markers.
The candidate will be able to:
Write well-structured, detailed texts on complex subjects clearly communicating ideas, impressions, feelings and opinions.
Write complex narratives and descriptions varying style appropriately.
Write a well-structured, detailed argument emphasising important points, expanding and supporting relevant ideas.
Write formal letters, reports or articles to fulfil a wide range of functions including those requiring a tactful approach.
Use all punctuation marks accurately and effectively.
Spell correctly words used in work, study and daily life including commonly used technical words.
Consistently control grammar to communicate effectively with few errors even when complex structures are employed.
Use a wide range of vocabulary suitable for purpose.
Generally use idiomatic expressions appropriately and naturally.
Use a wide range of complex structures.
Adapt register effectively and appropriately according to purpose in most contexts.
Link and organise ideas using a range of linking words and cohesive devices.
Organise text effectively to reflect the structure of the ideas expressed.
2.2 Topics – Expert Level – C1
FREE TIME, ENTERTAINMENT
Leisure, hobbies and interests.
TV, radio, cinema, theatre.
The written word (reading, letter-writing, diaries etc.) .
HOUSE, HOME, AND LOCAL AREA
Local & regional services/amenities.
Regional geographical features.
National flora and fauna.
Public & private transport.
Traffic & traffic control.
Entering and leaving a country.
Common currency e.g. the euro.
RELATIONS WITH OTHER PEOPLE
FOOD AND DRINK
PLACES & LOCATION
Satellite navigation systems.
Locating motorways and airports.
How geography affects people.
Alternative places to live e.g. underwater, on Mars.
Foreign language ability.
Preserving minority languages.
Universal languages e.g. Esperanto.
MEASURES AND SHAPES
Importance of maths in everyday life.
Qualifications and examinations.
The paranormal & supernatural.
Unexplained phenomena e.g. UFOs, coincidences etc.
Modern art, theatre, architecture.
Classical art, theatre, architecture.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
2.3 Functions – Expert Level – C1
Asking for and giving personal information.
Describing where one lives (accommodation, area etc.).
Asking and answering questions for confirmation, information, identification.
Describing people, places, things.
Narrating and describing past, present and future events.
Comparing things, people.
Reporting facts, actions.
Giving descriptions and specifications.
Expressing thoughts, feelings and attitudes
Expressing and asking about agreement or disagreement.
Expressing agreement reluctantly or with reservations.
Expressing views and feelings with reasons.
Asserting and asking about knowledge or ignorance of something or someone.
Stating whether a person, thing or action is remembered or forgotten.
Enquiring of someone else whether a person, thing or action is remembered or forgotten.
Stating and asking about degrees of probability.
Expressing, denying or asking about necessity (including logical deduction).
Stating and asking about one’s certainty or uncertainty of something.
Reminding someone to do something.
Expressing doubt, incredulity, bewilderment.
Stating and asking about one’s ability or inability to do something.
Stating and enquiring about one’s obligation (or lack of) to do something.
Seeking, granting or denying permission.
Stating and asking about the permissibility of doing something.
Expressing and asking about wishes, hopes, expectations.
Expressing and asking about wants, desires, needs.
Stating and asking about intention.
Stating, responding to and asking about preference.
Expressing and asking about likes and dislikes, with reasons.
Expressing and asking about (dis)pleasure, (un)happiness.
Expressing and asking about satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
Expressing and asking about interest or lack of it.
Expressing surprise or lack of it.
Expressing and asking about fear, anxiety.
Expressing regret, sympathy, condolence.
Expressing fellow-feeling, empathy.
Expressing and asking about pain, anguish, suffering.
Expressing fatigue, resignation.
Offering and accepting an apology.
Expressing and asking about approval, appreciation or disapproval.
Expressing moral obligation.
Accepting, attaching or denying blame for something.
Making things happen
Requesting something, or requesting someone to do something.
Inviting someone to do something.
Accepting or declining an offer or invitation.
Giving instructions or orders.
Giving and asking for advice.
Responding to or rejecting advice, with reasons.
Warning others to be careful or to stop doing something.
Offering and requesting assistance.
Persuading someone to do something.
Suggesting a course of action.
Asking for, responding to, agreeing to or rejecting suggestions with reason/alternative.
Making and agreeing plans and arrangements.
Encouraging someone to do something.
Prohibiting someone from doing something.
Refusing to do something, expressing defiance.
Pleading with someone to do something.
Getting someone’s attention.
Greeting people and responding to greetings.
Making and responding to formal and informal introductions.
Opening, closing a formal or informal conversation.
Paying someone a compliment.
Asking someone’s opinion.
Making someone feel welcome.
Giving and responding to constructive criticism.
Indicating lack of understanding.
Giving and asking for clarification, explanation or definition of something.
Confirming one’s own or another’s understanding.
Asking someone to repeat all or part of something.
Asking someone to speak more slowly.
Asking for help in finding words or phrases.
Asking for and giving the spelling and meaning of words.
Counting and using numbers.
Asking for and telling people the time, day, date.
Exemplifying or emphasising a point.
Classifying, generalising, defining something.
Encouraging another speaker to continue.
Indicating a wish to continue or finish speaking .
Observing telephone conventions.
Observing letter-writing conventions.
Candidates may be exposed to the grammar required for the level above, but will not be tested on it.
Simple, compound and complex sentences with subordinate clauses.
Word order in sentences with more than one subordinate clause.
Use of common conjunctions expressing contrast, purpose, consequence, condition, concession.
Non-defining relative clauses .
Defining relative clauses with where, whose, when.
Defining relative clauses without relative pronouns.
Participle clauses describing action with -ing.
Word order in complex sentences, including order selected for emphasis.
There could be/would be/should be.
Could have/would have/should have.
Wider range of conjunctions including on condition that, provided that.
More complex participial clauses describing action with -ed.
Present perfect continuous
Use of 2nd and 3rd conditional
Verbs + (object) + gerund or infinitive such as would like someone to do something, + suggest doing something
Causative use of have and get
Reported speech with a range of tenses
All verb forms active and passive
Wider range of phrasal verbs such as give up, put up with.
Reported requests and instructions.
Question tags using tenses appropriate to this level
Would expressing habit in the past
Reported speech with full range of tenses and introductory verbs
Extended phrasal verbs such as get round to, carry on with
Question tags using all tenses
Imperative + question tag
Contracted forms appropriate to this level
Modals, nouns, prepositions.
Negative of need and have to to express absence of obligation.
Should have/might have/may have/could have/must have and negative forms of these.
Can’t have, needn’t have.
Wider range of noun phrases with pre- and postmodification.
Word order of determiners, e.g. all my books.
Extended range of complex noun phrases.
Prepositions and prepositional phrases:
Wider range of prepositions including despite, in spite of.
Collocations of verbs/nouns + prepositions such as point at, have an interest in.
Preposition + -ing form such as after leaving.
Preposition + having + past participle such as having eaten.
Articles, determiners, adjectives, adverbs, intensifiers
Definite, indefinite and zero article with bothcountable and uncountable nouns in a range of uses.
Comparisons with fewer and less.
Collocation of adjective + preposition such as responsible for.
Adverbial phrases of degree, extent, probability.
Comparative and superlative of adverbs.
Wide range such as extremely, much, too.
Collocation of intensifiers with absolute and relative adjectives such as absolutely gorgeous, very pretty.
Punctuation and spelling
Use of apostrophes for possession and omission.
Use of other punctuation to enhance meaning.
Accurate use of all punctuation.
The correct spelling of words used in work, studies and daily life.
The correct spelling of words used in work, studies and daily life including familiar technical words.
A range of discourse markers expressing addition, cause and effect, contrast (however), sequence and time (at a later date).
Markers to structure spoken discourse (as I was saying).
Use of ellipsis in informal speech and writing (sounds good).
A range of logical markers (in this respect, accordingly).
Sequence markers (subsequently).
A wider range of discourse markers to structure formal and informal speech (can we now turn to).
3. Overview of Assessment for International ESOL
3.1 Assessment of the International ESOL examination paper
All Examiners are approved by LanguageCert and undergo rigorous and frequent training and moderation, to ensure that grades are awarded strictly in accordance with CEFR levels and LanguageCert examination requirements.
The LanguageCert International ESOL suite of examinations is directly calibrated to the levels of the Common European Framework of Reference produced by the Council of Europe.
International ESOL examinations are stringently assessed against the criteria as detailed in the syllabi. The grades awarded will be High Pass, Pass or Fail as per the thresholds below.
Please note that for VISA applicants for SELT purposes, separate grading arrangements apply, as per the right-hand column in the table below.
Grade thresholds (scaled)
* Note that there are different scaled-score requirements for the SELT IESOL examinations. As a result, a High Pass grade will be awarded when the required score for SELT is achieved in a SELT exam.
Listening and Reading
Raw Marks are awarded for the Listening and Reading Sections; the breakdown of these is shown per level, together with the minimum requirements for High Pass and Pass.
The Listening and Reading questions are externally marked by LanguageCert markers against paper-specific marking schemes.
Marks are awarded for the Writing tasks; the breakdown of these is shown per level, together with the minimum requirements for High Pass and Pass.
The Writing tasks are marked against criteria aligned to the descriptors of the CEFR. These criteria are Task Fulfilment, Accuracy and Range of Grammar, Accuracy and Range of Vocabulary and Organisation.
*A description of the tasks is provided at each level in the Syllabi section of the Handbook.
4. Access Arrangements
Access arrangements are reasonable adjustments and a reasonable adjustment must be applied for using the LanguageCert Reasonable Adjustment and Special Considerations Policy.
Access arrangements allow candidates with learning difficulties, disabilities or temporary injuries to show what they know and can do without changing the demands of the assessment. Examples include: a reader to read the questions and a scribe to write the answers.
Access arrangements are agreed before an assessment. For some arrangements, including readers and scribes, centres must apply to LanguageCert for permission before the examination. Please refer to the LanguageCert Reasonable Adjustment and Special Considerations Policy for the specific timeframes to apply for permission.
For information on arrangements not listed here, please contact LanguageCert. Specific contact details can be located in the LanguageCert “Contact us Guide”.
The International English for Speakers of Other Languages (International ESOL) examination assesses the candidate’s ability to listen, read, and write in English. As a result, some accessarrangements cannot be permitted. Examples are given in the table below.
Exemptions can only be considered as a last resort. For more information, please contact LanguageCert.
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