This study set out to answer the question: How do ESOL or bilingual learners get placed or place themselves in literacy and/or ESOL classes? While colleges or centres in multilingual cities or neighbourhoods might have well-developed ESOL provision, their literacy classes also show huge linguistic diversity. At around Entry 3 and Level 1 in the National Qualifications Framework, bilingual learners might end up studying in either. The study has found that the boundary between ESOL and literacy is not clear-cut, and that the range of learning needs encompassed by the two subject areas is more complex than a rigid distinction can allow for. The findings and implications expressed here stem from this overall conclusion.