Essential Soft Skills in English Online Courses

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English is increasingly becoming the language of higher education and the international workplace. Successful communication involves more than the ability to speak English; additional soft skills are required for people to be effective communicators in professional settings.

Soft skills, also known as interpersonal skills, are different from technical skills or competencies. Examples of soft skills include team building, listening, negotiation, persuasion, presentation, and writing skills. Employers in many parts of the world seek confident individuals who are capable of using their soft skills to participate effectively in teams, persuade others, present their ideas, and develop and maintain important relationships. A common complaint of employers and educators is a lack of soft skills in candidates.

The Essential Soft Skills in English courses will help students develop these important skills and contribute to both their academic and long-term career success. These soft skills, and the ability to apply them in English, are becoming increasingly important in the global marketplace and within higher education around the world. This course is for students who want to improve their English, and add the skills that employers are seeking to their resume!

NOTE: there are currently no scheduled offerings of ESSE courses; if you are a current or prospective Renison ELI partner and you are interested in offering ESSE courses to your students, please contact

How students learn 

These courses combine traditional reading, writing, and speaking with interactive new media to promote student learning. Students will experience both real-time classes and self-directed study in a dynamic online learning environment.

In these courses, students will:

  • participate in live classes online with instructors and students
  • complete multimedia assignments
  • participate in discussions and group-work with other students in an online environment
  • engage in a vibrant, virtual student experience that allows students to apply their communication skills
  • receive feedback from instructors on all assignments
  • complete final assignments and a multiple choice quiz
  • receive a transcript at the end of each course

Course materials are created with consideration for students whose first language is not English. Students will have the opportunity to engage with material in a written or video format (with subtitles) and, at their own pace, check any unfamiliar vocabulary in advance of live classes. 

In addition, a live orientation session with the instructor is held  on the first day of each course.

Essential Soft Skills in English is designed for:

Students who...

  • want to be better prepared for their university career
  • want to develop communication skills to enhance employability
  • want to improve workplace performance
  • want to extend their qualifications and build additional transferable skills in English
  • want to network with individuals and have 5-6 hours per week to devote to their personal and professional skill development
  • have a good intermediate level of English 

To participate in the Essential Soft Skills in English courses it is advised that students have a good intermediate level of English. This would be a B1, or higher, level of English on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). This means that students can do all of the statements in the following table.

CEFR Level B1   


  • I can understand the main points of clear standard speech on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
  • I can understand the main point of many radio or TV programs on current affairs or topics of personal or professional interest when the delivery is relatively slow and clear.


  • I can understand texts that consist mainly of high frequency everyday or job-related language.
  • I can understand the description of events, feelings and wishes in personal letters.


  • I can connect phrases in a simple way in order to describe experiences and events, as well as to give opinions. 
  • I can deal with most situations likely to arise while travelling in an area where the language is spoken.
  • I can enter unprepared into conversation on topics that are familiar.


  • I can write straightforward connected text on topics, which are familiar, or of personal interest.
  • I can write letters highlighting the personal significance of events and experiences.

NOTE: No English language test score is required to register for Essential Soft Skills in English. Students are responsible for determining their suitability to take a course. If you have a question about the language level of the courses, please email


Course Structure

Essential Soft Skills in English courses are approximately 25 hours of language instruction broken down into four modules. A course is completed over a 4-week period (one module completed per week). Each module includes a one-hour live class. 

A live orientation session is held at the beginning of each course. During orientation, students will receive an outline of the course, including assessment details, and a demonstration of our online learning platform. At this time, students will also meet their instructor(s), have the opportunity to share information about themselves, and learn more about their fellow classmates.

Learning Outcomes

Essential Soft Skills in English will equip students with:

  • the ability to effectively communicate with a variety of audiences in a range of situations;
  • the confidence to deliver well-structured and engaging presentations;
  • the skills to help students make a valuable contribution to whichever type of team they're in; and
  • strategies for persuasively communicating their point of view.

Course descriptions

There are four ESSE courses.

Working in Teams

Teamwork is important in many academic and employment situations, and working as part of a team requires a diverse set of skills. Successful teams need talented leadership, great ideas, strong communication, and respect for the skills and work styles of their members. In this course we explore what a team is, what makes a team successful, how to manage conflict that may arise, and how virtual teams function in English.

Interpersonal Communication Skills

Our lives are full of interpersonal communication. Whenever we are engaged with communication between people we are engaging in interpersonal communication. From placing an order over the telephone, to business meeting introductions or comforting a friend – these are all examples of interpersonal communication. In this course we will extend our understanding of interpersonal communication, develop verbal and nonverbal communication strategies, and learn how to strengthen relationships. Recognizing that listening is often a more powerful tool than speaking, this course will encourage active listening practice to help overcome communication breakdowns. This course teaches simple habits that will transform your communication skills in English.

Presentation Skills

Effective presentation and public speaking skills are necessary for many aspects of our professional lives – in school, at work, and in social situations. With practice and preparation, everyone can learn to present well in English. In this course we will identify what makes an effective presentation, including how to organize a presentation and speak in public, as well as how to use media and technology to create engaging presentations.

Developing Leadership Skills

One of the fundamental responsibilities of a leader is to make decisions that guide a group to a successful outcome. Leading a group is a challenge that involves vision, the ability to work under pressure, and the ability to motivate people. This course combines theory and practice to help students develop leadership skills. In this course we focus on how leaders think and act, how leaders empower others, and critically analyze issues that face leaders.

Sample weekly course structure

The Essential Soft Skills in English courses are modular in format. After attending a live one-hour orientation session, students will complete four modules (one module per week) over a four-week period.

Each week will require approximately six hours of study time. Students will be required to:


Approximate required time

Complete required readings (and watch required videos)

1.5 hours

Submit 3 to 4 written or video recorded (graded) assignments

1.5 hours

Participate in a (graded) discussion forum

30 minutes

Participate in a teacher-led one-hour lecture (attendance is taken in the lecture)

1 hour

Participate in a student-led study group (not graded)

1 hour

Complete an end-of-Module Quiz (graded)

30 minutes

Student success team and supports

As students study in their courses, they will have access to the following supports: 

  • English Language Institute Instructor: a subject expert who will guide students through the course content and answer any questions they might have. 
  • Student Experience Team: In addition to the virtual classroom community, students will be able to participate in virtual student engagement opportunities, including online social activities specifically designed to practice their conversational English with enthusiastic Peer Leaders, and regular workshops that will help them develop their skills as a successful student.

    Students are welcome to join our weekly virtual events. Each month, students can expect to enjoy a dynamic events calendar that features workshops, social events, conversation practice opportunities, and chances to build their networking and soft skills.
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