Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Kaiako Reo Pākehā (ki te Hunga Kōrero Reo Kē)

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

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.

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.

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.

Personal Qualities

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.


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.


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.

Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)s can earn around $48K-$80K per year.

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.

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, such as universities, that work with international students.

Years Of Training

1-5 years of training usually required.

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
  • two years minimum 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.

Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)