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Teacher - English as a Second Language

Year 12 Preferred University Course Subject Prerequisites Working With Children check

Also known as Teacher - English as a Second Language or Dialect.

Teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) teach, and assist other teachers to teach, students whose first language or dialect is not

Standard Australian English to become proficient with the English language.


    ESL teachers may perform the following tasks:

  • teach students basic or advanced English language skills
  • teach students individually and in small groups outside of the regular classroom, or assist students within normal classroom settings
  • diagnose and assess English language competency in students whose first language is a language other than English
  • provide assistance to regular classroom teachers by designing special teaching programmes for students with English language difficulties
  • provide advice concerning the community services available to assist students with English language difficulties


  • an understanding and acceptance of cultural differences
  • an excellent grasp of English language structure
  • able to identify the needs of individual students
  • very good communication skills
  • excellent organisational skills
  • prepared to work outside of school hours
  • patient when dealing with students of differing abilities and cultures

Interest Area

Helping/Community Service Influencing/Personal Contact Literary


Adult Migrant Teacher - teaches English to adult migrants whose native language is not English, in addition to courses such as 'an introduction to Australian society' to adults who have recently arrived.

Adult migrant education teachers work with individuals and groups. They may work for the state or territory government or in private organisations, educational institutions and community venues. They may also work in distance learning programmes, Home Tutor schemes and English in the Workplace programmes.


Year 12 Preferred University Course Subject Prerequisites Working With Children check

To become an ESL teacher you usually have to complete a degree in primary or secondary education with a major in ESL. Alternatively, you can undertake a postgraduate qualification, such as a Graduate Diploma of Education specialising in teaching ESL, after completing a degree in teaching, education or another relevant area (a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English, for example).

To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your HSC/ACT Year 12. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English and mathematics are normally required. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in primary or secondary education with a major in ESL.

Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information as requirements may change.

Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree. A number of universities in Australia offer postgraduate courses in education specialising in ESL. They may be available by distance education. Contact Open Universities Australia or the universities you are interested in for more information as requirements may change.

ESL teachers in Vocational education and training (VOC) institutions require experience in designing and delivering Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) programmes to adults. A VOC qualification in training and assessment may also be required to teach at a VOC institution. See the separate entry for Vocational education and training (VOC) Lecturer for full details.

Additional Information

    Before undertaking practical placements required by courses, students will need to obtain a Working with Children Check (NSW) or a Working with Vulnerable People Check (ACT). A National Police Certificate may also be required. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

    Teaching in schools in NSW requires accreditation with the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES). See www.nswteachers.nsw.edu.au for further information. Teaching in schools in the ACT requires registration with the ACT Teacher Quality Institute. See www.tqi.act.edu.au for further information.

    Teachers are required by mandatory reporting laws to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect.


ESL teachers work for the English Language and Literacy Service, VOC institutes, universities, private language schools and government-funded agencies. They also work in primary and secondary schools. The demand for ESL teachers is affected by migrant intake levels and government policy on migrants entering Australia.

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More Information - External Links

Job Outlook for Teacher - English as a Second Language The Australian Council of TESOL Associations Education Directorate (ACT) NSW Teachers Federation teach.NSW Department of Education and Communities (NSW) NSW Working with Children Check Office of Regulatory Services (ACT)

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