What do I need to know to get started in ELICOS?

What do I need to know to get started in ELICOS?

ELT Support has worked with existing RTOs, schools and other organisations, as well as new start-ups, to establish ELICOS colleges. This page is designed to help you decide if you would like to set up an ELICOS operation. This is general information only – please contact us on 0403 791 238 or david@eltsupport.com to discuss your particular situation.

What courses should I run?

First of all, you need to consider the type of student you would like to attract, why they’re coming to Australia, and if they have any future study plans. This will inform the types of courses you will offer, and the levels of language proficiency you can teach to.

Here is a summary of the main student goals and the types of courses that can be offered to meet their needs.

Learner goal Course Description
  • Improve general English language proficiency.
  • Travel or do casual work in an English speaking country.

General English (GE

The most common ELICOS course. Focus on developing the English language and communicative skills needed for interacting with others. Courses can be from Beginner level (A1/2 on the CEFR*) to Advanced (C1/C2 CEFR). Students with low levels of proficiency may take a GE course before they start EAP (see below).

Study in an Australian school, vocational college or university.
Secondary/High School Preparation (HSP), English for Academic Purposes (EAP
Higher level courses, usually based on the spoken and written English and study skills the students will need for further study. These can be generic, or specific to a particular study context.
Take an exam such as IELTS, Pearson Test of English (PTE), Cambridge B2 First.
Exam preparation course
Usually general English language skills and knowledge development plus exam orientation and practice.
Learn the spoken and written English needed for a specific context.
An English for Specific Purposes (ESP) course such as English for Business, English for Health Professionals, English for Hospitality
Usually based on the spoken and written English the students will need for that particular context. All levels. These are very useful for colleges which have on-going contracts with particular employers, to train their offshore staff
Teach English in schools in their own country.
English for Teaching, TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and EfTC (English for Teaching Children).
Usually general English language skills and knowledge development plus strategies for encouraging young students to communicate in class. Peer teaching, an observation or practicum is often involved.
Have a short holiday and study English for a short time with a group.
Study tour
A combination of General English or EAP with sporting, social, tourist or cultural activities, organised by a high school or university in a non-English speaking country.

Adapted with permission from English Australia (n.d.) https://www.englishaustralia.com.au/our-sector/understanding-the-sector

*CEFR = Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, a six-point scale used widely to describe language ability. See more information on https://www.cambridgeenglish.org/

The team at ELT Support can prepare curricula for any of these courses, and help you decide which combination of courses best suits your needs.

What levels should I offer?

ManyELICOS colleges have more than one course running at the same time, and these may be at different levels.

There is a set of names used in ELT around the world to describe proficiency levels from Beginner (lowest) to Advanced (highest). Sometimes, additional levels are created between these. Generally, a student at the Elementary level should be able to have a basic conversation, while an Intermediate level student can usually talk about most general topics but usually awkwardly and sometimes with difficulty. Because there are differences between the understanding of these levels, the common European Framework of Reference for Languages is used widely to describe language ability. This table shows a very rough equivalency between these levels, CEFR levels, and the IELTS band scales.
















Upper intermediate






How long should the courses be?

Progress through the levels will depend on an individual student’s aptitude for language learning and dedication to their studies, but a conscientious student may spend roughly twelve weeks at each level, sometimes as little as ten.

Interested? Contact us on 0403 791 238 or david@eltsupport.com to discuss how we can help you set up an ELICOS college.