English language courses

Overseas students coming to study English in Australia will find themselves immersed in English language and culture. Australia is proud of the reputation and quality of its English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS).

Who offers ELICOS?

ELICOS courses are offered by seconday schools, TAFE institutes, universities, private colleges and specialist English language centres. These courses are designed to help international students and visitors develop their English language skills so that they can fully participate in Australian life. In the case of international students, ELICOS courses provide a great way to develop your English language skills so that you can meet the English language requirements of your institution or simply develop confidence in your English abilities before beginning your studies. A number of institutions are affiliated with English language schools and will 'package' English language preparation courses with vocational or higher education courses.

All  ELICOS providers must register with the National English Language Teaching Accreditation Scheme (NEAS) before they can offer ELICOS courses. NEAS maintains the high standards of Australia’s ELICOS courses and monitors providers to make sure they continue to provide a high-quality education. NEAS looks at classroom sizes, teaching materials and the support services available for international students. You can find full details of the a process and a list of accredited providers on the NEAS website.

Education providers who wish to offer courses to international students are also regulated through the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000 and associated legislation, which requires all providers offering education to international students to register on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). It is illegal for providers to offer courses to international students unless they are CRICOS-registered. You can find further information about CRICOS legislation and registered providers on the CRICOS website.

Courses and qualifications

Institutions offer a wide range of courses suited to all learning needs, which can range in length from four weeks to 48 weeks. Courses include:

  • General English
  • English for academic purposes
  • English for secondary school preparation
  • English for special purposes (English for Business, for example)
  • IELTS and TOEFL test preparation
  • Cambridge test preparation
  • study tour programs, which include other extracurricular activities.

Average tuition costs

English language training starts from around AUD$300 per week.

These figures were sourced from the Australian Government's Study in Australia website in 2018. Please note that ELICOS costs vary significantly depending on the course duration and institution, so it is important to check with the relevant provider.

Entry requirements

Students coming to Australia on a student visa to study ELICOS are required to study full time. Entry requirements vary according to the level of English language course you want to study, with some catering for beginners and some requiring more advanced English language skills. You should check entry requirements with your chosen institution.

Tourists and visitors to Australia can also participate in ELICOS study during their stay. Courses combining study and tourist activities have been designed specifically for student visitors. You can find details of visa requirements on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.

English proficiency tests

There are a number of tests in Australia designed to assess the English language proficiency of international students wishing to gain entry to Australian courses. Five tests are also accepted for Australian student visa applications: the TOEFL test, the IELTS test, the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test, the Occupational English Test (OET) and the Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic test. See the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website for more information.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

The TOEFL test is recognised by institutions in more than 130 countries throughout the world. It examines the ability of candidates to understand and use English to the level that is spoken, written and heard in a tertiary education setting. The test takes two formats: the more common internet-based test (iBT) is administered via the internet, while the paper-based test (PBT) is completed in test centres that do not have internet access. TOEFL iBT test scores (and TOEFL PBT scores from certain countries) can be used to meet the required language component of the Australian student visa applications.

The test is widely offered (available at testing locations in 165 countries) and can be taken on fixed dates more than 50 times a year. You can find further details at www.toeflgoanywhere.org.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

The IELTS comes in two test formats: ‘academic’ and ‘general training’. All test candidates take the same speaking and listening modules, but candidates have the option of general training or academic reading and writing modules. Academic modules are aimed at students wishing to study at university level. General training modules emphasise basic survival skills in a broad social and educational context and are suited to candidates wishing to attend secondary school or undertake training programs that are not at degree level, or immigrate. The test is widely recognised by universities, employers, professional bodies and immigration authorities around the world. You can find more details at www.ielts.org.

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)

The Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) exams assess English language proficiency for admission to university and other courses. The exams are recognised around the world by universities, employers and national education authorities. You can find further information at www.cambridgeenglish.org.

Pearson Test of English (PTE)
The PTE is recognised by institutions and governments around the world and is available in various streams: academic, general and young learners. The PTE Academic test is suitable for higher education students and is split into speaking and writing, reading and listening segments. It aims to be fast and flexible, enabling candidates to book 24 hours in advance and have results delivered in five days. You can find further details at http://pearsonpte.com.
Occupational English Test (OET)

The OET tests the English language proficiency of overseas-qualified medical and health professionals wishing to undertake training programs or examinations in order to gain professional recognition and practise in Australia. You can find further details at www.occupationalenglishtest.org.

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