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Language competency requirements

Language competency

The Teaching Council focuses on evidence-based English language competency, and we provide opportunities to demonstrate their competency in English or te reo Māori. In order to teach in New Zealand, all applicants must meet the language competency requirements. These requirements are for Registration and for students gaining entry to initial teacher education programmes.

Required evidence

The evidence you will need to supply, could be in the form of test results, qualification transcripts, official NCEA Level 2 or 3 or NZ University Entrance documentation, official school results, or formal letters on letterhead which confirm English was the primary language of instruction, through to face to face learning and assessment from schools, universities or tertiary institutions you attended. See below for a detailed list of the options for demonstrating language competency.

Specified countries

The specified countries listed in this section are included because they provide more reliable evidence of language competency on the basis that English is the dominant language in each of these countries. New Zealand Immigration and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) also accept evidence from these specified countries due to information about the integrity of administrative and qualification regimes in place. 

* New Zealand

* Australia

*Canada

* Republic of Ireland

*United Kingdom

*United States of America

* South Africa -if you completed your schooling in South Africa, you will also need to provide a South African Matriculation Certificate Minimum D pass in English (higher grade) or South African Senior Certificate Minimum D pass in English (higher grade). 

Options for demonstrating language competency requirements in te reo Maori or English:

NZ UE literacy credits

The New Zealand University Entrance literacy credits at either NCEA level 2 or 3 or New Zealand University Entrance. (Check your NZQA record of achievement)

NZ tertiary entrance

New Zealand tertiary entrance qualification gained on completing senior secondary school prior to the introduction of current University Entrance. (eg 6th form certificate or bursary)

International Baccalaureate

International Baccalaureate full diploma in English medium (24 points minimum). This must be completed at an IB school.

Cambridge International Examinations

Cambridge International Examinations minimum 120 points on the UCAS Tariff plus meeting the CIE literacy requirements.

Primary plus some secondary schooling

All primary schooling and at least three years secondary schooling completed in the English language and while living in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, or South Africa. For South Africa, applicants also need to provide a South African Matriculation Certificate Minimum D pass in English (higher grade) or South African Senior Certificate Minimum D pass in English (higher grade).

Secondary and some tertiary education

Six years of education comprising secondary schooling to at least year 12 and at least two years of successful tertiary education, taught in English as the primary language of instruction and through face-to-face learning and assessment such as tutorials, presentations, seminars, and supervisory meetings, and was gained while  living in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, or South Africa.  For South Africa, applicants also need to provide a South African Matriculation Certificate Minimum D pass in English (higher grade) or South African Senior Certificate Minimum D pass in English (higher grade).

New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) qualification at or above level 7

Awarded a single qualification at NZQF level 7 or above which took two or more years of full-time study to complete and was taught in English as the primary language of instruction and through face-to-face learning and assessment such as tutorials, presentations, seminars, and supervisory meetings, and was gained while  living in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, or South Africa.  For South Africa, applicants also need to provide a South African Matriculation Certificate Minimum D pass in English (higher grade) or South African Senior Certificate Minimum D pass in English (higher grade).

Cambridge CELTA

Awarded Cambridge Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA).

Trinity College CertTESOL

Awarded Trinity College London Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CertTESOL).

Achieved an approved test outcome

Cambridge English exams
Cambridge English exams C2 Proficiency (CPE) or C1 Advanced (CAE) or Cambridge English exams B2 First (FCE). A minimum score of 185, with no band score less than 185.

IELTS Academic

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic. A minimum score of 7 in each component of the academic version of the test.

ISLPR

International Second Language Proficiency Ratings (ISLPR). A minimum score of 4 in all modules.
Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic. A minimum score of 65 in all four modules.

Trinity ISE III (3)

Trinity ISE III (3). A pass with Merit in all four modules.
LanguageCert C2 Mastery IESOL
LanguageCert C2 Mastery IESOL. A pass in all four modules.
LanguageCert C1 Expert IESOL
LanguageCert C1 Expert IESOL. A high pass in all four modules.

TOEFL Internet-based test (IBT)

TOEFL Internet-based test (IBT). Must meet the following scores in each module: Listening - 24; Reading - 24; Writing - 27; Speaking - 23.

Achieved competency in te reo Māori

  • Te reo Māori competency evidenced by one of the following
  • Achieved Whakamātauria Tō Reo Māori Level 3 (National Māori Language Proficiency Examinations
  • All primary schooling and at least three years secondary schooling in te reo Māori
  • Five years of secondary schooling in te reo Māori.

Please attach a certified copy of evidence of your language competency. The evidence acceptable to the Council is outlined in the Council's language competency requirements.

Exceptional cases for english language

The Council considers exceptional cases only where the specified evidence cannot be provided but there is other evidence of a high standard of English language competency.  

We make decisions on a case-by-case basis and require several sources of strong evidence.

If you have not completed any schooling and studies in any of the countries listed in the policy (New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, the Republic of  Ireland, Canada, USA or South Africa) and you have not completed an approved test/course then it is likely that you will not meet the requirements for an exemption.

For initial teacher education, the request for consideration as an exceptional case must come from the provider.

Frequently asked questions

Read the FAQs.

Helpful links

Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic 
TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT)
Cambridge English exams 
IELTS
Trinity ISE III (3)

Policy

Language Competency for Teaching in Aotearoa New Zealand Policy