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Could a postgraduate TESOL course be for you?

James Davis

Careers Commentator
TESOL requires a very particular set of extra skills on top of a standard education degree. Are you the right kind of person to enter a career in TESOL?

TESOL stands for, “teaching english to speakers of other languages”. It’s a teaching discipline like many others, with the added requirement of being bilingual and having a willingness to travel. With a postgraduate qualification, it’s possible to deepen your knowledge and enter or re-enter a career in the field more qualified and confident than ever. However, it’s not necessarily for everyone.

This article will cover four questions regarding whether or not postgraduate study into physics is for you. In answering each, you should have a better idea of whether or not it’d be something for you:

  1. What does TESOL entail day-to-day in a professional context and what’s required academically?
  2. What are the job prospects like?
  3. What’s the salary like?
  4. What are your study options?

What does TESOL entail?

Like many other teaching disciplines, TESOL requires the preparation of lesson plans and extensive interaction with students daily. Teachers must be fluent not only in English but the native language(s) of their students so as to incorporate effective analogies or examples into their teaching.

At the postgraduate level, TESOL provides Bachelor of Education holders with the means to teach in the unique manner demanded. Some topics of study students can expect include:

  • Pedagogy for EAL classrooms
  • Innovation in language curriculum
  • Pedagogic grammar
  • Reflective practice in EAL and languages classrooms
  • Language testing and assessment
  • Intercultural communication in language classrooms
  • Learning global English in diverse social contexts

Overall, TESOL is for teachers who are very committed to their linguistic abilities. In addition to all the standard requirements that are expected of good teachers, like patience, clear communication, leadership and organisational abilities, TESOL practitioners must be well aware of socio-cultural considerations and be culturally sensitive.

What are the job prospects?

According to the government site Job Outlook, TESOL practitioners can expect moderate future growth. The government rates this profession as ‘very high skill’, which is the highest level the assign to any profession.

What’s the salary like?

According to Payscale Australia, teachers in this field make $57,426 (AUD) per annum on average. However, please note this is only in Australia. TESOL teachers frequently travel and work overseas, which can lead to significantly more pay. Countries like South Korea are famously reverent of English language teachers, paying them accordingly.

What are your study options?

There are plenty of postgraduate study options for TESOL.

  • Graduate certificates take six months of full time study to complete, or up to one year part time. Graduate diplomas take double that. This makes them a highly efficient way of gaining some of the necessary skills for practicing TESOL, provided you’re already holding a Bachelor of Education. The Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Griffith University is an ideal example. Students can expect units in language awareness for teachers, understanding the language learner, second language curriculum development and more. These are essentially a collection of masterclasses designed to build upon your current theoretical frameworks and how you can practically capitalise on them.
  • Master’s degrees normally take two years of full time study to complete, or up to four years part time. They provide an even more comprehensive understanding of TESOL methodologies and theories, making them the paramount qualification for teaching in Australia overseas. Entry requirements are the same as graduate certificates or diplomas; you’ll need a Bachelor of Education to get in the door. The Master of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Deakin University is an example of such courses, providing units similar to the above, with the addition of research electives. These allow you to undergo a small project in a topic of your choosing, although not to the same extent as a bespoke research master.
  • A doctorate is the pinnacle of TESOL education, requiring students to spend three years full time or up to eight years part time gathering data and producing a 70,000 - 100,000 word thesis on a problem of their choosing. In TESOL, these aren’t a requirement for professional practice, as they rely on an entirely different set of skills. Students are fulfilling a research role, after all. The purpose is to develop new theory or discoveries in the field rather than take part.

Hopefully this has given you a better understanding of what’s available to students of TESOL both academically and professionally. No matter where in the world you choose to take your education and career, we wish you the best!