International GCSE English as a Second Language (9280)

International GCSE English as Second Language

Enable your students to develop the four essential English language skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking.

This International GCSE is designed for students whose first language is not English, but who use English for their studies. Students will read, understand and analyse a variety of texts, presented in different styles and covering a range of topics, including factual and literary texts.

The course will support students of all abilities to write and communicate clearly, coherently and accurately using varied vocabulary and sentence structures. It develops the skills necessary for effective communication in their further study or career.

  • Separate papers give students more opportunity to highlight their ability.
  • Each paper has a distinct identity to better support high-quality and engaging teaching and learning.
  • Our qualification recognises the importance students place on verbal communication in English, which is why the speaking component is an integral part of the award. 20% of the qualification focuses on the assessment of speaking skills.

International GCSE English as a Second Language (9280)

View the switching guide to see the differences between your old International GCSE English as a Second Language specification and the OxfordAQA specification (version updated November 2022).

OxfordAQA International GCSE English as a Second Language covers the following topics:

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

Assessment Objectives:

The assessment comprises four papers: the first is a reading paper and the second is a writing paper, each of which provide separate tasks; the third is a listening paper that uses recorded monologues and dialogues; and the fourth is a spoken language (oral) element that provides students with an opportunity to show their language skills.

  • 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

We made changes to the assessments of International GCSE English as a Second Language in 2021, These were made following feedback from OxfordAQA teachers in order to support our commitment to Fair Assessment. Details of the changes to International GCSE ESL can be found here.

OxfordAQA provides all the resources and advice you need to teach the International GCSE English as a Second Language specification effectively.

We have too many resources to list here, so please visit our resources area for teachers to see them all, including:

  • Schemes of work to allow you to plan how to deliver the specification in a way that will best suit you and your students
  • Teaching guidance to outline clearly the scope of teaching and learning
  • Topic tests and mock exam analysers to allow you to track your students’ progress throughout the teaching year

Paper 1 – Reading:

  • 1 hour 15 minutes
  • 60 marks
  • 30% of GCSE

Paper 2 – Writing:

  • 1 hour 15 minutes
  • 60 marks
  • 30% of GCSE

Paper 3 – Listening:

  • 45 minutes
  • 40 marks
  • 30% of GCSE

Paper 4 – Speaking:

  • 10 minutes, plus time to prepare
  • 40 marks
  • 20% of GCSE


  • Linear specification; individual components may not be re-sat.
  • Candidates can re-take the whole qualification as many times as they wish
  • Results for the non-exam assessment (NEA) component (speaking unit) can be carried forward for the life time of the specification.
  • You only need to make one entry for each qualification – this will cover all the question papers, non-exam assessment and certification.

Take a look at:

You must be an approved OxfordAQA centre to enter students for our exams. Make sure you become an OxfordAQA centre before you start teaching a course.

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Course specification
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(PDF, 600KB)