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Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

Kaiako Reo Pākehā (ki te Hunga Kōrero Reo Kē)

Alternative titles for this job

Teachers of English to speakers of other languages (ESOL teachers) teach people from non-English speaking backgrounds how to speak, read and write English.


ESOL teachers usually earn

$46K-$75K per year

Source: MoE and careers.govt.nz research, 2020.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as an ESOL teacher are poor due to low demand for their services.


Pay for ESOL teachers varies depending on their qualifications, experience and who they work for.

Private language schools

ESOL teachers are usually paid an hourly rate in private language schools. They may earn between $25 and $32 an hour for a 25-hour week.

Primary and secondary schools

Qualified ESOL teachers at primary and secondary schools usually earn between $48,000 and $80,000 a year.

Tertiary institutions

ESOL teachers at universities and polytechnics can earn from $50,000 to $75,000, depending on the institution.

Sources: Ministry of Education, 2020; and careers.govt.nz research, 2020.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

ESOL teachers may do some or all of the following:

  • analyse students' language abilities and assess their needs
  • design and prepare learning materials and course outlines
  • make sure suitable learning aids and resources are available
  • prepare and present lessons
  • work with individual students to set up learning objectives, such as speaking and pronunciation, or reading and writing skills
  • monitor and report on student progress
  • teach skills for coping in a new community.

Skills and knowledge

ESOL teachers need to have:

  • a thorough knowledge of the English language
  • an understanding of language learning and teaching principles
  • practical teaching and classroom management skills
  • skill in planning lessons
  • research skills, including how to locate useful resources for students.

ESOL teachers at secondary schools also need knowledge of curriculum subjects to work with students studying them, or to help teachers prepare class material for ESOL students.

Working conditions

ESOL teachers:

  • may work full or part-time hours, which can include evenings and weekends
  • work in school and tertiary institute classrooms, and in students' homes.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for ESOL teachers varies depending on the type of work.

Early childhood, primary and secondary schools

To become an ESOL teacher at a primary or secondary school you need to be a registered teacher and preferably have an ESOL qualification, such as:

  • Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching for Adults (CELTA)
  • Certificate in TESOL
  • Cambridge Diploma in English Language Teaching for Adults (DELTA)
  • a graduate or postgraduate certificate or diploma in Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) or second-language teaching.

You also need to be registered with the New Zealand Teachers Council and have a current practising certificate, renewable every three years.

Registered teachers can apply for a scholarship for Teaching English in Schools for Speakers of Other Languages (TESSOL) qualifications.

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children. 

Tertiary institutions

To become an ESOL teacher at a tertiary institution – for example, in a university preparing students for academic study – it’s preferable to have:

  • a Master’s degree in TESOL, second-language teaching or applied linguistics
  • a minimum of two years’ relevant experience.

Private language schools

To teach in a private language school there are no specific entry requirements, but it is recommended that teachers complete an ESOL qualification.

Secondary education

A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training.

Personal requirements

ESOL teachers need to be:

  • organised
  • good at solving problems
  • skilled at listening and building relationships
  • good at writing
  • interested in, and understanding of, people from a range of cultures
  • positive, friendly and approachable
  • adaptable, energetic and good at motivating people
  • sensitive and caring
  • patient and creative.

You need to be patient because the students come from a different culture, and our way of learning may not necessarily be the best way for them.

Kerry De Graaff

ESOL Teacher

Useful experience

Useful experience for ESOL teachers includes:

  • teaching
  • experience of learning to speak another language
  • volunteering as a home tutor.

Working as an unqualified ESOL teaching assistant in a school is useful experience before completing a teaching qualification.


To teach in a school, ESOL teachers need to be registered with the New Zealand Teachers Council, or be given a Limited Authority to Teach by the Council.

Limited Authority to Teach means that a person has the skills to teach their subject, but may not have a specific qualification normally associated with teaching.

Find out more about training

Teaching Council of Aotearoa
(04) 471 0852 - enquiries@teachingcouncil.nzteachingcouncil.nz
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Aotearoa New Zealand (TESOLANZ)
tesolnz@tesol.org.nz - www.tesolanz.org.nz
0800 165 225 - TeachNZ.admin@minedu.govt.nz - www.teachnz.govt.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

COVID-19 pandemic decreases demand for ESOL teachers

Job opportunities for ESOL teachers are poor as the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced demand for workers. This is because the number of migrants and international students has fallen due to border closures. 

Demand may improve as restrictions to control the spread of the pandemic ease. The Minister of Education has said he hopes that small groups of international students will be able to enter New Zealand by the end of 2020.

You can increase your chances of getting work as an ESOL teacher if you have:

  • relevant ESOL teaching experience and recognised TESOL qualifications
  • second language skills: bilingual with fluency or partial fluency in one or more languages, particularly those of immigrant Asian, Pacific or Middle Eastern communities 
  • experience teaching the International English Language Testing System (an English language test recognised worldwide)
  • skills in music, sport or outdoor activities as private language schools often offer social programmes for short-term international visitors.

Types of employers varied

ESOL teachers may work for:

  • primary and secondary schools
  • tertiary institutions such as polytechnics and universities that have English language foundation courses or academic preparation courses
  • private language schools
  • not-for-profit organisations that work with refugees and migrants
  • workplace training schemes for migrant workers in industries such as horticulture, engineering and construction.

ESOL teachers may also be self-employed and tutor individual clients or groups at community education classes.


  • Jones, K, 'English Language Centres Closing, "Teetering"', 1 July 2020, (www.stuff.co.nz).
  • McPherson, G, 'From the CE: A Transitional Phase', 25 June 2020, (enz.govt.nz).
  • Tertiary Education Commission, 'Update on International Students', 26 June 2020, (www.tec.govt.nz).

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

ESOL teachers may progress to jobs in areas such as:

  • training ESOL teachers
  • language policy and planning
  • curriculum development
  • textbook design and development
  • working with new migrants (at government departments)
  • welfare or marketing at private institutions that work with international students, such as universities.

Last updated 1 December 2020