English is truly a global language and a working knowledge of English is now a requirement (regardless of location) for occupations in science, medicine, education and the liberal arts.

More and more people across the globe are wanting to learn English as an auxiliary language, but in a way that incorporates both regional variations and the vocabulary of their industry or academic institution. This is an exciting opportunity for English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers, tutors and educators.

In today’s blog we’re looking at the ESL teacher career path in Australia: what it is, ESL teacher jobs, and how to get started in this exciting occupation. If you’d like a career where you’re helping people become their best selves, why not consider becoming an ESL teacher?

Duties of an ESL teacher

Let’s start with the basics. An ESL teacher is someone who teaches English to a person who has a language background other than English (also known as a LBOTE learner). LBOTE learners in Australia can include international students and business personnel, people who came from overseas as migrants, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who speak an Aboriginal language at home, and refugees.

As an ESL teacher it is your job to teach and assess the gaps in your student’s English skills and help them achieve their English language goals. Your duties can include:

  • Assisting students to set study goals.
  • Helping the learner master English pronunciation, grammar, conversation, reading and writing skills.
  • Supporting people born overseas as they adapt to Australian life and culture.
  • Designing and preparing lessons and coursework.
  • Developing ESL teaching materials and learner resources.
  • Correcting homework and grading exams.
  • Liaising with other teaching staff, parents and relatives of students.

Job roles for ESL teachers

As an ESL teacher, you could work at high schools, universities, migration centres, Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), TAFE colleges, or even start your own business. Here are a few possibilities to consider:

ESL tutor — become a private tutor to kids, students, adults and business people who need help with English. You could start your own business or get a job with migration centres and community service organisations. Get started with the Certificate IV in TESOL.

ESL teaching assistant — support LBOTE students in the classroom under the guidance of a qualified teacher. Grab your Certificate IV in TESOL to get started.

Overseas ESL volunteer — volunteer abroad teaching conversational English to young children, students and adults. You’ll need a Diploma of TESOL to teach overseas, though some organisations also require a Bachelor of Education.

Online ESL teacher — start your own business and teach English to LBOTE learners from all over the world. You’ll need a Diploma of TESOL to get started.

Registered ESL teacher - work at government schools and education bodies helping non-English speaking students develop their formal English language skills.

TESOL academic - impact the TESOL pedagogy by carrying out your own research and developing new teaching methodologies. You’ll need post-graduate qualifications like a Graduate Certificate in Educational Studies (TESOL) or Master of TESOL.

How to become an ESL teacher

There are a number of pathways into this rewarding career including university degrees and VET qualifications. You’ll also need a creative and enterprising nature, plus a passion for helping people.

Certificate IV in English Language Teaching (TESOL)

The Certificate IV in English Language Teaching (TESOL) is a great way to get started as an ESL teacher. You’ll learn how to teach basic English literacy including grammar, spelling and pronunciation — then graduate with the skills to work as an ESL teaching assistant or tutor in Australia or overseas. The certificate is also a pathway to higher education in the TESOL discipline.

Diploma of English Language Teaching (TESOL)

Teach English online or get a job as an ESL teaching assistant or tutor in Australia with the Diploma of English Language Teaching (TESOL). In some countries you’ll also be qualified to teach independently. During your studies you’ll learn how to teach LBOTE learners to listen, speak, read, and write English and gain the skills to design ESL syllabus, proficiency tests, and learning programs.

Graduate Certificate in Educational Studies (TESOL)

If you’re an experienced teacher or already hold a university-level teaching qualification, you can transition to ESL teaching with a graduate certificate. This high-end course will teach you how to provide a rich learning environment (including digital learning) for LBOTE learners that incorporates their native language and culture.

Master of TESOL

The Master of TESOL is for people with no teaching experience, but hold a Bachelor’s degree in another discipline. You’ll get the skills you need to teach English in Australia, overseas, or online, plus obtain registration with the teaching authority in your state.

Written by Melinda J. Irvine
Melinda J. Irvine
Melinda is a professional writer, blogger and creative. When she’s not writing she works with marginalised kids in the Philippines, supporting their social and emotional wellbeing. You can find out more at melirvine.com.au.