New to ELICOS? What are levels and courses?

ELT Support Services gets many requests for assistance with starting up ELICOS courses. These come from existing RTOs, schools and other organisations, as well as from new start-ups.

It is wise to first consider the different types of courses that can be run, and also the levels of English language proficiency they can cater for. This page is intended to help you make these decisions. Of course, please feel free to contact us at any time on 0403 791 238 or david@educationsupport.com.au to discuss your particular situation – we understand that every ELICOS college is different.

What are levels?
Most ELICOS courses have running at the same time, each at a different level. In Australia (and a number of other countries) there is a fairly standard set of names, from lowest to highest: Beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper Intermediate and Advanced. Sometimes, additional levels are created between these. Generally, a student at 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.

Completion of Upper Intermediate is generally required for entry to vocational education, and Advanced level is usually required for university study. 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 ten to twelve weeks at each level.

What courses can an ELICOS college run?
Common courses include:

  • General English (GE). This is the most common ELICOS course. It is appropriate for students who are learning English for a wide range of purposes not covered by the specialist courses below, and for students who will move into a specialist course once they meet the right level. GE is far more likely to attract students on working holiday or tourist visas than the other courses, though it is also very popular with student visa students. There would usually be GE classes at all levels from Beginner or Elementary to Advanced.
  • English for Academic Purposes (EAP). Usually, this is for students intending to study at university or another higher education institution, or on vocational courses (further education). EAP tends to be at higher English levels only, starting at Intermediate or Upper Intermediate. Students often start in GE before progressing to EAP, depending on their level on arrival.
  • Exam Preparation. This can help students currently unfamiliar with an external exam such as IELTS or the Pearson Test of English (Academic) exam, but who need to take it.
  • English for Specific Purposes (ESP). This might be English for Business, or English for Hospitality Operations, for example. These courses are not so common, but can be very useful for colleges which have their own vocational or higher education courses, or for on-going contracts with particular employers, to train their offshore staff.

Every ELICOS college is different, but a common arrangement is to have five or so levels of General English, two or three levels of EAP, and perhaps an IELTS exam preparation course. There is no compulsion to follow this pattern, though: unique courses, targeted to the needs of your potential students, may give your college a competitive advantage. When planning which courses to run, the number of classrooms available for ELICOS students is often a limiting factor.

ELT Support Services can prepare curricula for any of these courses, and help you decide which combination of courses best suites your needs.