Do you want to teach ESOL (English to speakers of other languages)?

Teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) can be a very satisfying profession. As a teacher you may help refugees overcome great hardship to make new lives in Australia. You may teach migrant children who are eager to learn and whose parents are strongly committed to education. You may assist adult migrants to participate more fully in Australian life through newly acquired English skills. You may teach young adult travellers attending short intensive English courses in Australia and enjoy stimulating cultural exchange with people from many countries. A recognised TESOL qualification can provide a ticket to work throughout the world.

ATESOL ACT receives many enquiries from people who are thinking of undertaking TESOL training and who want to know the best courses for intending ESL (ESOL) teachers to undertake. We hope that the following introduction to the field provides a starting point for your further research. It can be time-consuming to obtain the information you need but detailed, up-to-date information is only available from training, employing and accrediting authorities.

No single course will qualify you to teach in all the scenarios described above so you need to think about the types of work situations which most interest you before choosing a course. These are some matters which you need to consider:

Considerations before choosing a TESOL course

  • Where do you want to teach? In Australia or overseas?
  • Who do you want to teach? Young people (primary, secondary, tertiary)? Adults? Migrants? Refugees?
  • Do you want to teach in a government school, an independent school, an IEC (Intensive English Centre), a private college aimed at foreign students, at TAFE – CIT or in another state, university or elsewhere?
  • Do you want to study a course which is covered by HECS or a full fee paying course?
  • How do you want to study? Full time? Part-time? By distance education?
  • Are you considering TESOL as a career or are you looking for a way to combine work and overseas travel for a year or two?
  • Do you want your TESOL course to be counted toward a higher degree eg Master of TESOL or Master of Education?
  • If you have a course or institution in mind, what is the quality of the course and institution you are considering?
  • How well regarded and recognised is the course and institution in Australia and/ or overseas?
  • Does the training institution assist new teachers to find employment?

It is important to note that there is no accrediting body with the role of granting worldwide official recognition to any teaching certificate or diploma. The information on this website is particularly relevant to readers from the ACT or those intending to work in the ACT. The following table gives an overview of minimum qualifications usually required for work in various contexts for teachers who are not already teaching in a government school.

NB. The TESOL field involves many acronyms. See the Glossary for an explanation of some of these terms. To gain an overview of the field, look at some of the websites referred to in the Glossary.