ELTO | English Language Training for Officials Programme

Building the capacity of human resources is a major foundation for development in any country. Recognising this, the New Zealand Aid Programme assists the less developed members of ASEAN countries to address their human development needs through the English Language Training for Officials (ELTO) Programme.

The ELTO programme provides the opportunity for government officials from five least developed countries in the South East Asian region: Cambodia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Myanmar, Timor Leste and Viet Nam to undertake a theme-based English language training in New Zealand. Commencing in 1992, the ELTO programme is one of the longest running human resource development assistance programmes to the region. To date, more than 1,200 government officials have received the training. The third phase of the programme commenced in July 2009 and will run to December 2015.


The objectives of the ELTO programme are:

  • to improve English language skills of participating officials so that they can represent their countries at international fora where English is the medium of communication
  • to improve understanding of New Zealand and New Zealand culture
  • to enhance relationships among participants and their coutnries and with New Zealand.


Each year, two intakes of up to 48 officials come to New Zealand to take part in the 22 week English language training course. They spend seven weeks at a regional institute at Nelson or Napier to undertake the first part of the programme while living in homestay accommodation. They return to Wellington for 13 weeks for the second part of the programme before returning to their home countries.


Nominations for the ELTO programme are invited twice a year through in-country coordinating agencies: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Timor Leste, Myanmar and Mongolia and Ministry of Planning in Viet Nam. To be eligible for the programme, applicants must be a government employee, have been in their current job for two years or more and have a current score of 4.5 to 6 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Gender is a key consideration of the programme and female applicants who meet the criteria are given priority.


The current ELTO intake (Intake 40) commenced their programme in January 2015 and will finish in July 2015. The theme for this intake is agriculture.