ESOL stands for ‘English for Speakers of Other Languages’

‘Other Language’ speakers may need ESOL learning to develop or improve their literacy in English, at all levels and in all roles at work in health and care.

 From Entry level literacy, to academic writing skills for Masters level apprenticeship programmes, to language skills for onward career development.

The HEE ESOL Practice Group NetworkGroup of individuals in the middle of a discussion.

The NHS England (Health Education England) ESOL Practice Group is made up of people working in the NHS and Adult Social Care who are actively looking for ways to improve ESOL learning for work across the sector, at all levels.

London Resources

If you are looking for ESOL resources in the London area, the below link highlights Informal ESOL classes. (Please note for the Formal ESOL classes, there may be a cost attached):

Find an English language (ESOL) course in London

Conversation Clubs

As well as formal ESOL teaching and learning, there are informal approaches which can help develop language skills and confidence.

How did we start a Conversation Club in the workplace?

Claire Smith Functional Skills/Training Lead, Education and Training, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, explains how she successfully piloted Conversation Clubs – and how managers and staff were persuaded to sign up. Sessions were offered via Zoom with positive feedback from participants – it was a chance to talk about ‘something different’ and to ‘offer peer to support to other staff’.


How can we resource a Conversation Club?

Kelly Green, Senior Learning and Development Advisor, Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, explains how Frimley started small, and is now planning to grow Conversation Clubs across the Trust – and through the Integrated Care Service – across the wider community.

Kelly explains how Conversation Clubs can be started with minimal resources and how to use two employer incentive payments to expand and mainstream their use, as part of an employer’s Learning and Development strategy.

Apprenticeship levy scheme – learn more on our Funding and Levy page. 

Supported traineeship pre-employment programme: Traineeship employer incentive registration form – GOV.UK (


How apprentices and other staff can volunteer to help run Conversation Clubs

Claire and Kelly talk about how Conversation Clubs volunteers need to feel welcome and supported and have some guidance about being a volunteer and to ‘understand our expectations’.

Using a basic online training programme would be ‘a great way to standardise volunteer training  across Trusts, Primary and Social Care – and make sure volunteers feel really valued.’

‘We could encourage and support online volunteer network, giving volunteers a chance to:

  • Meet with others
  • Share experiences
  • Ask questions’
Conversation Club Resources

The Learning and Work Institute has produced a series of guides to Conversation Clubs. These were designed for community learning but are readily adaptable for the workplace. The guides include:

  • A guide for organisations
  • A guide for volunteers
  • English conversation practice toolkit
  • Conversation club resources guidance

Access conversation club resources and access a guide for running Conversation Clubs online:

And a set of four complementary videos supporting organisations to help effectively plan and lead conversation clubs.

Can I join the ESOL Practice Group? Yes – if you are actively looking for ways to find, share and develop good ESOL practices for work in health and care, at all levels. We welcome more members – particularly from the Midlands and the North, and from Adult Social Care and GP practices – in fact from all areas of the sector. If you or colleagues are interested, please mail

The ESOL Practice Network is for anyone with an interest in improving ESOL learning for work in health and care.  You can join The ESOL Practice Network Linked in Group here. Joining up will keep you in the loop.