English for Foreign Professionals in London
London is the business capital of the UK and there are many opportunities in the business sector for professionals seeking work. As English is the prominent language of communication when working in London, non-native job seekers from outside the UK, before gaining employment, will need to satisfy the employer of their competence in the English language. To sustain a level of good practice and quality, the governing bodies for each industry, such as legal, health and finance, set in place a level of proficiency required for roles within the sector.
European Economic Area (EEA) Nationals
For citizens of a country within the EEA, UK employers are legally obligated to consider qualifications obtained in the applicant's home country as recognised qualifications that can be registered within the UK. This assists non-native English speakers in obtaining employment within their chosen business sector, although employers will still be required to ensure the applicant has the ability to meet the standard of English required for the role.
For a full list of countries within the EEA visit www.dwp.gov.uk/international
Non EEA Nationals
Non-EEA nationals, whose qualifications have been obtained in their home country, are currently required to provide evidence of, or take part in, extensive language competency tests before being able to work within the UK. Evidence of competency can take form in either English Language tests or by providing substantial evidence of knowledge and application of English language.
English language tests
There is a wide variety of tests and qualifications available in English Language, most of which are accepted by UK employers. Below is a list of some of the most common. It is worth noting, however, that IELTS is the most popular and usually the most useful qualification to obtain as most of the regulatory bodies have adopted the use of IELTS, deeming it the most applicable test for potential workers in the UK.
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
IELTS was designed for those people wishing to study and work in an English-speaking environment. The process tests students' English abilities in speaking, listening, reading and writing and results are provided in different grades. These grades are often used as a measure against an applicant's required criteria for job application.
The European council created the 'Europass' as a language passport to be used in order for EU citizens to self asses and to provide employers with a framework that sets out the applicant's proficiency in speaking, writing and understanding any European language. By inputting the required level of language ability within the specific role, employers set a benchmark so that applicants may assess their own capabilities against the set criteria. This can assist in identifying which roles are worth applying for.
International ESOL Diploma: City and Guilds
Assessing listening, reading, writing and speaking skills, this diploma from the Common European Framework has a potential 6 level outcome which defines the proficiency of the candidate. The upper two levels are usually the desired result from employees in the UK.
Business Language Testing Service (BULATS).
This series of assessment and benchmarking tests are focused on language skills required within business and commerce. The results provide employees with a measure of proficiency for applicants' use of specific business related language.
EIKEN test in Practical English Proficiency: The Society for Testing English Proficiency (STEP)
An internationally administered English language test, EIKEN assesses the usual four skills with the inclusion of a face-to-face speaking test.
Those wishing to improve certain areas of English may take lessons or practice before an exam. There are many good English schools in London including:
Trinity College offers English language courses, exam prep and tests for IELTS and ESOL and also some specialist areas such as business. And BULATS.
London School of English
Offering specific courses aimed at learning and preparing for IELTS test.
Applicants may be considered for roles without the need for extensive language tests if they can prove they have good knowledge and application of the English language in context. Examples of this kind of evidence could be:
- Fully or partly educated within the UK.
- Fully or partly educated in a UK recognised institution abroad.
- Experience of working in an English speaking country or organisation.