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I want to Study English; how do I Start?

20th April 22

English as an area of study is extensive and diverse, examining language constructs and literary texts both past and present. That’s why it is predominantly divided into two separate categories: language and literature. Both build on your understanding of the written form and enhance your communication abilities, but with different qualification types available, it can be hard to know which to choose when the time comes to study English. 

If you want to study English, the type, of course, that is best for you will depend on several factors. These include your current qualifications, which version of English studies interests you most, and what you want from your learning experience. 

To help you get started, we’ve listed a number of different English courses you can take below, ranging from basic English skills to pre-university level courses, so you can find the one most suited to your goal. What’s more, they can all be studied online! 

Functional Skills English 

As a recognised GCSE alternative, Functional Skills qualifications have gained a lot of traction in recent years. They were introduced in 2007 to help improve the nation's literacy and numeracy capabilities and are intended to equip people with the practical skills that would help them in both their professional and personal lives. 

By studying Functional Skills Level 2 English, you will receive the equivalent of a GCSE grade of C/4, which is accepted by most universities as part of their entry requirements. However, we advise that you check the entry criteria of your favoured university before applying. 

This Functional Skills English course is perfect if you don’t have a GCSE in English, but now want to work on your skills.  

Being a skills-based qualification, Functional Skills English also teaches you how to use English in everyday situations, as opposed to the more theoretical focus of the GCSE. This makes our Functional Skills English Level 2 course ideal for anyone who lacks confidence in their ability to communicate, both verbally and through the written word. 

learndirect - I want to Study English; how do I Start?

Throughout your Functional Skills English course, you work on three main areas: 

  • Reading 
  • Writing  
  • Speaking, listening, and communicating 

Each unit in your Functional Skills Level 2 English course teaches you how to apply these skills practically in real life.  

Afterwards, you’ll know how to write a compelling letter using correct spelling and grammar and be able to talk with confidence over the phone and face-to-face, all being valued skills in the workplace and useful for your personal interactions. 

Now more than ever, schoolchildren are being encouraged to develop strong English and Maths skills. At the time of writing, the UK government announced plans to boost English and Maths at schools, with Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi claiming that extra support will be given to schools to help students who are struggling in these subjects. 

As an adult learner, you can brush up on your skills quickly via a Functional Skills Level 2 English course. 

How Can I Study Functional Skills English Level 2?

For optimum convenience and flexibility, you can study Functional Skills English online with learndirect, the UK’s leading online learning provider. Our Functional Skills Level 2 English course is affordable and benefits from flexible payment plans. Plus, you get the online exam included in the course package. 

In a matter of weeks, you can achieve your Functional Skills English Level 2 qualification, essentially completing an English language course online from the comfort of your own home. 

GCSE Level English 

GCSEs are internationally recognised qualifications and arguably the most important qualifications you can earn, mainly because GCSEs will allow you to go on to further study. Many jobs also stipulate minimum grades in GCSE Maths and English and occasionally other subjects too. 

learndirect - I want to Study English; how do I Start? - GCSEs

However, it is important to note that some entry-level jobs will also accept Functional Skills Level 2 English and Functional Skills Level 2 Maths qualifications. 

At the GCSE level you can study both the English language and English literature. These courses aim to develop your reading and writing comprehension. But, unlike the Functional Skills English alternative, they both provide more academic material around their area of English.  

By choosing to study GCSE English Language, you explore the following: 

  • The science behind the written and spoken word - This involves analysing the morphology, phonology, and syntax of the English language, as well as studying the themes and ideas that are discussed by writers, all of which helps you develop your own writing abilities  

By opting to study GCSE English Literature you learn about the following: 

  • How people have written through time - This encompasses studying the historical and sociological events at the time texts were written, and analysing how these have impacted readers both then and now. It’s the avenue of English studies that helps you explore texts and look for their deeper meaning, which gives you an enhanced perspective of historical events and enables you to develop empathy with the authors and characters 

Choosing to study English at the GCSE level, therefore, develops your understanding of English as an academic subject, which builds a solid foundation for the further academic study of it. This is opposed to developing your English skills for everyday use, which is what you do when studying Functional Skills in English. 

How Can I Study GCSE English?

Similar to the structure of our Functional Skills Level 2 English course, we offer a GCSE English Language and English Literature course package that includes the exam. You have the freedom to complete your studies entirely online, with the exam being scheduled in May or June.  

Our flexible options make this one of the best online English courses. Not to mention, our competitive course fees will make it feel as though you have enrolled on a free English course! 

learndirect - Study English and gain Functional Skills


A Level English 

One of the next natural progressions from GCSE level study or Functional Skills is taking English at A Level. Again, this is split between the English language and English literature. 

Both courses at this level take a closer look at their core topics. So, you can further analyse and find the deeper meanings behind them. You’ll explore a wider range of texts, and your learning will be more independent, giving you the space to come up with your own theories. 

A-Level English Literature takes you through various types of writing, so you learn to write effectively in numerous styles. It pushes you to read outside your comfort zone. Taking a deeper look at tragedy and crime writing where you’ll read texts written by: 

  • Historical playwrights 
  • Poets 
  • Authors 

These will be anyone from Shakespeare to Keats and Wilde. Plus, more modern texts from writers like Arthur Miller, Agatha Christie, and Kate Atkinson. English literature at this level focuses more heavily on analysis and comparison. So, you will be asked to complete larger projects and essays in an academic style in preparation for university. 

A Level English Language, on the other hand, explores communication in more depth and how to apply meaning to words. Identifying the ways society impacts language and what enables humans to acquire, use and understand it. You’ll also study how humans learn the language and the language used to help children grasp English from an early age.  

Overall, A-Level English Language teaches you about the powerful subconscious effects of language. Shows you that when used effectively, language can influence: 

  • Thoughts 
  • Perceptions 
  • Actions 

All of these elements enhance your own communication skills and teaches you how to critically assess information and challenge assumptions. 

You’ll also gain an understanding of the wider context of language and the written form. Opening your eyes to the way language is used for social control, propaganda, and manipulation in the wider world. 


How Do I Study A-level English?

Just like our GCSEs and Functional Skills English courses, you can study A-level English with learndirect. Navigate your way through the course online, getting prepared for your summer exam.  

learndirect - Study English A Levels

We understand that going back into education as an adult isn’t easy, but our flexible payment options make our courses affordable and favourable among adult learners. 


Access to Higher Education Diploma (English Studies) 

If you’d like to study English but want to combine language and literature, consider an Access to HE Diploma. An Access to Higher Education Diploma (English Studies) encompasses the lessons of both branches of English studies, bringing them together in one course. 

Through this, you’ll become well-versed in both language constructs and literary analysis, which better prepares you for degree-level study and employment opportunities. The course also provides the equivalent of 3 A Levels. So, you can gain the Level 3 knowledge and skill required for university, without years of study. 

You’ll explore fascinating language modules, such as: 

  • Communication and communities 
  • Gender 
  • Language acquisition 
  • Social media 
  • Poetry 
  • Film adaptations of literary texts 
  • Shakespeare 
  • Societal change in Britain 

With this qualification and knowledge, you can study for degrees in subjects like English, History or Marketing, all of which can lead you into a number of diverse and interesting careers. 

How Do I Study for the Access to HE Diploma (English Studies)?

With learndirect, you can complete an Access to Higher Education Diploma (English Studies) entirely online thanks to our industry-leading platform. You will benefit from getting university ready within 1 year! This is because on average, our learners achieve their diploma within 9-12 months. 

Enrol On Your Chosen English Learning Course 

No matter your choice of online English course, if you’re ready to study English, you can do so online. learndirect is the leading UK distance learning provider, with many courses that allow you to develop your English and communication skills. 

You can complete your studies from home, at a time that suits you. There are no classes to attend, which means there is no disruption to your schedule. Whether you want to study Functional Skills English Level 2 or an Access to Higher Education Diploma, we have the online courses for you!  

For any of you that have searched for ‘free Maths and English courses for adults online, we also have free English short courses available to boost your literacy skills ahead of the above study programmes. 

Speak to one of our Course Executives today on 01202 006 464 or contact us online. Alternatively, click below to learn more about your options. 

How to Study English learndirect

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