International GCSE English as a Second Language

GCSE English as a Second Language

This international GCSE is designed for students whose first language is not English, but who use English for their studies. The course will enable students of all abilities to develop the four essential language skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking to support effective communication in their further study or career.

Students will read, understand and analyse a variety of texts, presented in different styles covering a range of topics, including factual and literary text. The course aims to develop students’ ability to write and communicate clearly, coherently and accurately using a range of vocabulary and sentence structures.

Our ESL qualification recognises the importance students place on verbal communication in English, which is why 20% of the qualification focuses on the assessment of speaking skills.

This qualification is available for teaching from September 2017 in Bahrain, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.


AO1 Reading: Understand and respond to written language
AO2 Writing: Communicate in writing
AO3 Listening: Understand and respond to spoken language
AO4 Speaking: Communicate and interact in speech


  • Linear specification; individual components may not be re-sat.
  • Candidates can re-take the whole qualification as many times as they wish


Identity and culture

  • Me, my family and friends
  • Technology in everyday life
  • Free-time activities

Local, national, international and global areas of interest

  • Home, town, neighbourhood and region
  • Social issues
  • Global issues
  • Travel and tourism

Current and future study and employment

  • My studies
  • Life at school/college
  • Education post-16
  • Jobs, career choices and ambitions

Download the complete Oxford AQA International GCSE English as a Second Language specification (PDF, 380 KB).

Resources available with this specification

Oxford International AQA Examinations provides the resources and advice you need to teach the International GCSE English as a Second Language specification effectively.

Switching Guides

Quickly orient yourself with the changes between your old International GCSE English as a Second Language specification and the new Oxford International AQA Examinations specification.

Scheme of Work

Plan your course with the help of a suggested pathway through the syllabus so you can be sure you are covering the essential content.

Teacher Guidance Document

Prepare for your year ahead by accessing the essential information you need to deliver the International GCSE English as a Second Language specification.

Specimen Papers and Mark Schemes

See how the International GCSE English as a Second Language specification will be assessed, so you can help your students prepare to sit their exams.

Marked Exemplars

Coming soon: Prepare your students in exam technique with the help of exemplar student answers and examiner commentaries that show how examiners interpret the mark scheme.

Enhanced Results Analysis™ tool

Our free Enhanced Results Analysis tool (ERA) gives you instant analysis of your students' results. You’ll see how students performed in each unit, topic and marks they received for each question. This allows you to see which questions proved the most challenging, or how different classes performed, so you know what areas to focus on in following years. The tool will be available following published results from the first cohort of International GCSE English as a Second Language students in 2019.

Download this specification

(PDF, 379 KB)

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