Offering world-class higher education to international students has quickly become one of the cornerstones of the Australian economy. In 2017-2018, the education export industry was worth $32.4 billion to the Australian economy, up from $28.1 billion in the previous financial year.

Of course, Australia does boast some of the best higher education institutions in the world, with 5 of its universities ranking in the top 50 worldwide, according to the QS top universities rankings.

However, a major reason why an increasing number of international students are choosing Australia as a preferred destination for higher education is due to the strong incentives in the global economy for people able to speak English.

A great way to become more employable in Australia is by studying business English. Learn more about the impact business English can have here.

Let's dive deeper: What are the reasons that people choose to complete their higher education or post-graduate work in English, and also in English speaking environments?

English opens doors to higher education
Learn to speak English to access Australia's world-class education system. (Source: Pixabay Credit: Ihsanadity)

ESOL Learners in Australia

The majority of immigrants to Australia are adults seeking greater economic prosperity,

These may be skilled migrants, who have to demonstrate their English skills prior to being accepted, or they may be students, who must show a high level of English if they wish to convert their student visas into permanent residency.

Either way, the Australian Government demands a particular level of English language ability as part of the migration admissions process.

Oftentimes these migrants also have children who must be educated in English, however, they must not demonstrate their English language prior to acceptance into Australia.

Due to this pressure, English courses in foreign countries often focus on preparing students for exams such as IELTS and TOEFL, rather than giving you the tools to improve your English for more general, everyday purposes.

Therefore, many immigrants arrive to Australia having taken English courses and having passed an exam but lacking the most basic day-to-day vernacular required to flourish within the workplace and the local community.

While it is often overlooked, general English courses become an appealing choice for immigrants learning English once they have already arrived in Australia.

English as a Second Language (ESL)

All students of the English language, regardless of age and reasons for learning English, must all learn the basic aspects of the language such as:

  • speaking the language with proper tone and inflection
  • word order and sentence structure
  • correct spelling
  • verbs, their tenses and proper conjugation
  • how to use adjectives and adverbs properly
  • grammar rules
  • using proper punctuation

Students learning English in Australia must work very hard to establish the foundational knowledge of English to add more specialised skills such as business English on top of that.

Another crucial aspect of everyday English is familiarising yourself with the most common uses of slang and idioms in your specific regional context. These will help you to excel in spoken English environments such as a job or University entrance interview or networking within your profession.

Amazingly, 23.6% of all students in Australia's universities are international students.

This shows it can definitely be done! Learning English is the first step towards a professional future using the English language. Improve your English today and you could join this 23.6%!

Learning English puts you on the path to success
Learning English will set you on the right path to achieve your professional goals (Source: Pixabay Credit: Pexels)

Learning English is Paramount

Like many international students in Australia, studying English in depth is going to help you to achieve your professional goals.

Learning English as a foreign language (EFL or ESL) can be difficult, but it will give you the tools necessary to ask questions and communicate when discussing more specialised subject areas, such as science and technology.

For example, if you do not know the vocabulary for a specific word, your general English will help you to be able to explain what you are trying to say, even before you have learned all the vocabulary.

Once your general English is up to standard, you will have to master the vocabulary associated with your area of expertise and study, as well as develop the necessary grasp of grammar for writing academically in English.

This will be crucial to earning a degree. For example, if you study sociology or anthropology, you will have to learn a range of jargon and phrases commonly used in those fields of study, which are not taught in General English courses.

Fortunately, there are many online resources to help you improve your English. You can even learn specialised vocabulary using free English lessons to guide you along the way.

Online Resources For Learning English

The is a multiplicity of useful resources and tools available online specifically made to help you improve your English.

However, with so much out there, finding the specialised services that cater to your English learning needs, and your specific subject, can be difficult. But, it doesn't have to be!

The British Council has a rich catalogue of useful resources for learning English at whatever level. They have podcasts, reading exercises, grammar worksheets and free English lessons, to help you achieve your English learning goals.

The British Council will help you with general English, which will give you foundational knowledge before you undertake a degree. However, the resources on this site do not provide lessons for the specialised vocabulary for degree subjects such as science, engineering, etc.

This is where the Khan Academy can help you. They offer free English lessons online in subjects areas such as physics, chemistry, medicine and advanced mathematics. They also have podcasts for you to sharpen up your advanced listening skills, to prepare you for those two-hour university lectures.

Furthermore, their website boasts an expanded section on English grammar, which breaks down sentences into parts of speech and also teaches you correct pronunciation.

These free English lessons are also followed by quizzes, which help you to review the knowledge and test your comprehension.

Be aware that the Khan Academy uses American English for their videos, which contains several spelling differences to Australian English, which you will be expected to use at all Australian higher education institutions.

Some examples of differences include color vs colour, center vs centre, mom vs mum. 

It is a great idea to listen to podcasts with American, British and Australian accents to prepare you for all the potential pronunciations of different vowel sounds in English.

Finding learning resources online is easy
Once you know English, finding great websites is easy! (Source: Pixabay)

English: The Language of the Internet

Before we continue, let us dissect the latest statistics on internet use, as provided by the premier agency in such matters.

Asia, with over 55% of the world population, accounts for just over half of all Internet users. Europe comes in at second, followed by Africa, which has a rising number of Internet users, now at 11.5% of global traffic. Fourth place is North America, the continent where English is spoken the most, which accounts for just 7.2% of global Internet users.

What's important to note, however, is that North America has the greatest global percentage of Internet penetration - which refers to the number of people who have access to the Internet.

When you also consider that the World Wide Web was invented in the United States in 1990 by Tim Berners-Lee, it's no surprise that many of the most useful and innovative websites present content in the English language.

To learn English opens up a world of informative content. Now let's take a deeper dive into what learning opportunities there are for an English speaker using the World Wide Web.

Start English conversation lessons online.

Culture and History

If you are interested in politics, history, culture and international relations, there is an abundance of great websites where you can practice your English reading and listening skills, many of them completely free.

Of course, Wikipedia is many people's go-to for brushing up on background information about pretty much anything.

Another website you could try out is Expatica, an online catalogue of information about what it's like to live in a particular country as an ex-pat. This is one such site that only publishes content in English.

America's CIA also offers an in-depth factbook about every single country in the world, including information such as its largest industries and its relations with other countries.

Streaming Movies and Music

Another great and fun way to learn English online is to stream films and listen to music in English. Websites

Chatting and online language exchanges can also be a fun way to learn English! Lang-8 is an online community where people talk via webcam and help each other learn one another's native language.

You can also use Reddit's language exchange forum to find somebody to help you learn English!

Play Games on the Internet

One of the most entertaining ways to learn English, especially for young children, is to play computer games that teach you English while you play!

One great online game for practicing spoken English is Second Life, an online role-playing game where you create a persona that talks to other characters in a virtual society. This will help develop your spoken English in a fun and engaging environment.

A few other great English games websites are:

Once you know English, you can access a vast array of resources for growth such as opportunities in higher education, information on the internet and all kinds of entertainment.

Learning English is a truly great decision!

Learn how learning English can be made easy with our post on simplifying ESL classes.

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An English Teacher by day, a writer and musician by night. Teaching is my adult passion the same way Pokemon was my childhood passion.