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How to become an ESL teacher in Australia: careers in teaching

How to become an ESL teacher in Australia: careers in teaching
English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers help new arrivals to Australia with little to no English language skills. They work with children and adults in government and independent schools, private colleges for international students, in TAFES and universities as well as intensive English centres. ESL teachers prepare coursework and teaching materials to help people from a diverse range of nationalities become proficient in English.

Being an ESL teacher: daily duties

An ESL teacher assesses the English language abilities of their students and determines the extent of help that they require. They prepare course outlines, teaching materials and outcomes accordingly. ESL teachers may also assist teachers in mainstream classroom settings who have students requiring help. Some ESL teachers may work closely with refugees who have fled traumatic experiences in their countries of origin and can also help adult migrants to gain confidence and integrate into their local communities by improving their English skills.


  • Preparing instructional materials
  • Recording and reporting on student progress
  • Dealing with people from a variety of backgrounds
  • Assess student progress
  • Motivating and directing students

Being an ESL teacher: skills for success

ESL teachers require cultural sensitivity in order to work with students from all over the globe. They need to display sensitivity and diplomacy, and have good communication skills to deal with people from diverse backgrounds. As with all teaching roles, ESL teachers need good organisational and planning skills to create and deliver their lesson plans.
  • Cultural awareness and sensitivity
  • Good communication skills
  • Aptitude for languages
  • Desire to help others
  • Problem solving skills

Specialised roles within teaching

There are a variety of pathways and options to further your career in teaching, with a range of specialisations to explore.
  • Primary school teacher
    Teachers in the primary school system teach students from grades K to 6 in basic literacy, numeracy, social science, creative expression and comprehension.
  • High school teacher
    High school teachers need to specialise in a subject to teach at secondary school level as part of their Bachelor of Education degree or enter the field through postgraduate study.
  • Teacher librarian
    Teacher librarians assist in improving literacy, coordinate distance education programs, familiarise students with information technology and manage schools’ library facilities.

Educational pathways for ESL teachers

A tertiary qualification in your field of specialisation is necessary to become an ESL teacher, as well as ongoing professional development.
  • Start your career
    Find an entry level course to qualify you to work in the education sector.
  • Strengthen your skills
    A bachelor’s degree will allow you find employment teaching in Australian schools.
  • Build your resume
    Refine your skill set or pursue a specialisation with additional training.
  • Industry requirements
    You will need to join the register of qualified teachers in your state in order to work as a teacher in schools.
  • Finding Work
    Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your teaching career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.
  • Employment Prospects
    ESL teachers are always in demand, reflecting the makeup of migrants from around the world in Australia’s population. Future growth in job openings is predicted.

Resources for ESL teachers

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