Australia is increasingly becoming a culturally diverse country, with this trend being reflected in nursing education as significant numbers of students enrol from backgrounds where English is a second/other language (ESL). These students will enable the provision of culturally competent care that a culturally diverse health system requires (Ohr et al., 2010), however they require significant levels of support to not only achieve academically in their nursing programme, but also to perform at the expected level during clinical placements (Boughton et al., 2010). Difficulties communicating with colleagues, patients and their families in the clinical setting have been identified among the challenges that ESL nurses face (Boughton et al., 2010; Jeong et al., 2011). A review of the literature indicates sporadic research into the education of nurses from ESL backgrounds. This paper discusses and raises awareness of common themes such as the challenges of adjusting to Western culture and using the advanced and technical English required by higher education and healthcare. This paper also discusses mixed results reported from a number of English language support programmes. This indicates a need for further research in this area to strengthen support for these nurses who can assist in the provision of culturally competent care.