Study TESL in Malaysia


    TESL, or Teaching English as a Second Language, refers to the practice of teaching the English Language to students whose first language isn’t English but is widely used in their native country. 

    As English has gained prominence over the past few decades, so has the demand for English teachers. 

    As such, universities have provided TESL courses to properly equip English teachers to be a bridge to connect their students to the English Language. 

    Read on to get started on your journey to a TESL course in Malaysia!



    What is TESL? 

    As briefly mentioned above, TESL means Teaching English as a Second Language. 

    For a country like Malaysia, English is widely used but it is not understood by everyone. 

    For example, a student who grew up only understanding Mandarin may need the assistance of a teacher who studied TESL to teach them English.

    With that, you may see other abbreviations such as TESL, TESOL, and TEFL, and they are all within the field of teaching English to students whose first language is not English. 

    It can certainly get confusing when you’re exploring your course options!

    Here are their definitions to help you out:

    • TESL, or Teaching English as a Second Language is defined as teaching English to students whose first language isn’t English but is widely used in their native country, such as Malaysia.
    • TEFL, or Teaching English as a Foreign Language is defined as teaching English to students whose first language isn’t English and is not the primary language in their native country. 

    For example, a Korean student who is studying in a Malaysian university needs to understand English in order to do their assignments, so they would need an English teacher who has a TEFL qualification to assist them.

    • TESOL, or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages can be quickly defined as a mix of both TESL and TEFL since you will have the skills and the flexibility to teach English to students from both English and non-English speaking countries.



    Why Should You Study TESL?

    study TESL


    Influence and Shape Lives

    If you’re passionate about teaching, you’ll probably feel rewarded when you see your hard work through your students’ growth. 

    That joy of helping a student understand a topic they may be struggling with is rare and precious – not many career paths or work can give you that feeling.

    An English teacher’s work is immensely important in Malaysia and is respected by many, especially parents! 

    If making a difference through education sounds like something you’d like to achieve, TESL could be for you.


    International Opportunities

    Just because you studied TESL in Malaysia, does not mean you’re only limited to career options in Malaysia. 

    Let’s say you studied TESL, and you also understand Mandarin, you can potentially be an English language in China or Taiwan, as knowing the students’ first language is a valuable skill in teaching TESL!


    Thriving Job Market

    The demand for English teachers in Malaysia has never been higher.

    According to JobStreet’s 2021 job report, an online English teacher is one of the most in-demand jobs for fresh graduates – you can teach from the comfort of your own home! 

    Job security is stable as ever if you study TESL in Malaysia.



    What Will You Learn in TESL?

    A TESL course prepares you to be a professional English teacher, but what sort of skills do you need anyway? 

    It’s just teaching.

    That is a common, yet unfortunate misconception many hold about teaching. 

    There are so many more skills and knowledge that a teacher must hold to excel at teaching.

    Here is a breakdown on what you will typically learn in a TESL course:


    Teaching, Reading, and Writing

    This module teaches the consideration of considering the principles, theoretical issues, and how they affect teaching of reading and writing to students.


    Literature in a Language Classroom

    The module provides an insight into understanding issues in the teaching of literature. 

    It explores how new developments about the teaching of literature can transform thinking.


    Curriculum Studies

    This module provides an introduction to curriculum development, transferring knowledge, and skills and how theories help to explain how children and young people learn.


    Theories and Practices in Language Teaching

    This module observes how language is used in schools through the understanding of theories and practical methods. 

    It addresses how language is taught in different subjects and examines effective ways language is taught in different subjects.


    Behaviour and Classroom Management

    This module is about how teachers can create motivating and positive learning environments, develop behaviours that maximise learning, and manage their time and resources in a classroom environment. 


    What Are the Popular TESL Pathways?

    TESL course

    Based on the table above showing the popular pathways for a TESL course, you may opt to study Foundation for 1 year or a Pre-University (A-Level, SACE, STPM, etc.) course for 1 to 2 years after completing SPM or equivalent qualification.

    You can then take up a TESL bachelor’s degree for 3 years after completion.

    Alternatively, you may also choose to pursue a Diploma in Education (TESL) for 2 to 3 years, where you’ll be able to move towards becoming an English teacher immediately or study a TESL bachelor’s degree.

    So what does your pathway look like?


    Diploma in Education (TESL)

    To qualify for a diploma course, you only need to have 3 credits in SPM/O-Level, including a pass in Bahasa Melayu and History.

    Diploma courses usually take between 2 to 2.5 years to complete and cost from RM 35,000.

    You can enter the workforce immediately after graduation.


    Bachelor’s Degree in Education (TESL)

    For degree courses, you will need to have 5 credits in SPM/O-Level qualification, including Bahasa Melayu and History, and the following pre-university course:

    • STPM: min. of 2Cs
    • A-Level: min. of 2Es
    • UEC: min. 5Bs 
    • AUSMAT/SACEi: min. ATAR 50
    • Relevant Foundation: min. of CGPA 2.00
    • Relevant Diploma: min. of CGPA 2.00

    A pre-university course can take up to 2 years to complete and cost from RM 18,000.

    Once you’ve completed your pre-university course, you can then move on to the degree course.

    Degree courses take 3 years to complete and cost from RM 20,000.

    Diploma students who want to continue their studies can do so with a degree course and they begin in Year 2.

    Though the costs and requirements differ for each university and Education courses, for more specific information, you can contact an advisor by using the Live Chat function. 



    What Are the Skills Required in TESL?


    English Proficiency  

    Unsurprisingly, you would need to be good – if not proficient – in English. It is important to note that TESL does not teach you English, but rather knowledge about the language and how you can teach it effectively through theory and practice. 

    It is a course that requires lots of reading and writing in English, so make sure you have your English sharpened!


    Communication Skills

    You would need to communicate clearly and carry yourself well to convey ideas and teach new topics to students. 

    How can I break down this concept in the simplest sense? 

    What types of examples will help my students understand me? 

    How do I engage my students to talk back to me during speaking exercises? 

    These are all questions you have to ask yourself when you’re on the job.

    While your selected TESL course will teach you how to hone this skill better, you should be aware that it is a skill you need to master to be a great English teacher.



    Of course, to teach a group of students completely new topics will require a lot of patience, no matter the age group. 

    Are you prepared to explain the same concept multiple times, in different ways? 

    What if your students don’t respond to your method of teaching? 

    Different unpredictable scenarios can come up during teaching – because people are unpredictable! 

    As a result, you would need to be cool as a cucumber and be patient with your students. People learn best when they are shown empathy after all!



    Top TESL Universities in Malaysia

    Figuring out where to take your passion for teaching further? 

    Here is a list of the top 3 universities and their TESL courses available in Malaysia:


    University of Nottingham Malaysia

    The University of Nottingham Malaysia opened in September 2000 and became the first British university to set up a campus both outside of the UK and in Malaysia. 

    Its syllabus is the same as the one at the main campus in the UK to ensure that students receive the same quality of education.

    TESL courses offered:

    • Bachelor of Education with Honours (TESOL)
    • Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Education (TESOL)


    HELP University & Colleges

    HELP University & Colleges have grown steadily and sturdily since 1986.

    At HELP, each new student will be assigned to a senior student as his/her buddy during the first semester and peer tutoring is available to those who need it.

    TESL course offered:

    • Bachelor of Education (TESL) 



    Things You Need to Know About TESL Career

    As a TESL degree holder, you’ll be qualified to teach English as a second language in public and private schools, as well as language centres and tuition centres. 

    As such, your career path as an accredited English teacher will be a more straightforward route than other professions due to their low amount of requirements.

    It may be easy to assume that TESL is a degree that only allows you to teach English – that is simply not the case. 

    TESL teaches you modules that equip you to teach in a classroom setting, which is why you can become a teacher of any subject as long as you have the knowledge and qualification. 

    Teaching can take place in many places outside of a classroom, it can happen in the comfort of your own home or online too.



    Popular TESL-related Jobs

    It is a common view in Malaysia that teachers do not get paid well despite the important work that they do. 

    Though according to Payscale, this view may not be as true. 

    The monthly base salary of an English teacher can start at RM 3,000. 

    Like many other jobs, you would have to start from the bottom, and your pay will increase as you gain more relevant experience.

    Here are a few job postings for an English teacher on JobStreet as examples:

    • Secondary Subject Teacher (First Language English & English as Second Language) 
    • English Language Teacher Primary Schoolers Or Preschoolers
    • English Teacher
    • English Teacher for Primary 
    • English Specialist 

    If you have further questions about TESL courses, feel free to reach out to us on WhatsApp or message us on our social media sites. We’ll be happy to assist you.