Learning English

If you need to work on your English language skills, there are lots of options from formal lessons and qualifications to conversation groups.

English language training in New Zealand is often called ESOL training - English for Speakers of Other Languages. Courses could specialise in everyday English to help with daily life, academic English for study, or business English for work.  

Courses are available from many different organisations and learning institutions and may be full-time or part-time.    

For more information about courses in your area, select your region from the 'Looking for regional info?' box.

Pre-purchasing tuition

Some New Zealand visas have minimum English language requirements.

Secondary applicants - partners and dependents over 16 - applying for residence under the skilled and business streams who can’t show that they meet a minimum standard of English will need to pre-purchase ESOL tuition.

Applicants under the parent category can also pre-purchase ESOL tuition as a way of meeting our English language requirements.

If you have pre-purchased English language classes with your visa it means you can access approved courses at no further cost.

The government’s Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has a list of approved courses on its website. If you need help deciding which course to choose, call the TEC toll free Help Line 0800 601 301 to discuss course options with an English for Migrants Advisor. If you’re calling from overseas, dial +64 4 462 5201.

English for Migrants - information for learners | TEC

Enrolling for a pre-purchased ESOL course

If you have pre-purchased English courses, Immigration New Zealand will give you an ‘Agreement and schedule’. Take this and your passport when you enrol for the course.

Practise every day

The more you use English the faster you’ll learn. Practise as much as you can and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

There are lots of options for developing your skills:

  • Speak English at home as much as possible. Family support can be a big help.
  • Socialise - surround yourself with English speakers. Speaking with other ESOL learners is also worthwhile, as long as you are speaking English.
  • Join in with as many groups as you can to get amongst Kiwis. Volunteering is a great way to help out and learn at the same time. Check out the information in Meeting people.
  • Take some Adult Community Education classes (ACE). These are practical courses, often hobby-oriented, and class sizes are usually small so it’s easy to get chatting with Kiwi English speakers. They are also a good way to meet other people who share your interests.
  • Take every opportunity to speak to Kiwis. Read New Zealand newspapers, watch New Zealand TV and films, and listen to local radio stations.
  • Try watching some New Zealand TV shows using the Able caption service - a service that provides English captions on TV shows. It shows you written versions of what’s being said and will help you put spoken and written English together.

Meeting people


How to access captions on TV | Able

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Page last updated: 10/07/2017

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