Alphabet Soup

September 30, 2016

Ever wondered what all those acronyms mean for teaching and learning English?


Well, here are some of the most common ones if you are interested in getting into this world.



TEFL - Teaching English as a Foreign Language



Interpretation: With this certification, I can teach English in another country. This type of English is supplementary to existing school curriculum, used for teaching business, or just for fun. Training has more of a grammar focus.


TESOL - Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


Interpretation: With this certification, I can teach English in the US or overseas the same as TEFL. TESOL focuses more on language of everyday life or academic content based curriculum.




ELL - English Language Learners


Interpretation: The students of a English language class or school.




ESL - English as a Second Language


Interpretation: A type of language class that is taught in the US.  This assumes that English is the second language, however, a student may already speak several other languages. This terminology is being phased out and replaced with ESOL.


ESOL - English for Speakers of Other Languages


Interpretation: If I am teaching English class in the US, it would be called an ESOL. This is the updated acronym for ESL or a type of class. This is the preferred term in the industry. These students are immersed in the language for everyday life or academic content in schools for advancement.


EFL - English as a Foreign Language


Interpretation: If I am teaching English class in another country, it would be called an EFL class. The students use this class for business, fun or as a supplement to regular programming. There is more of a focus on grammar.


BL - Basic Literacy


Interpretation: Just think ABC's reading, speaking and writing at a very basic or beginning level. Learners may have had very little formal education or none at all.




TOEFL- Test of English for Foreign Learners


Interpretation: Some professions, colleges or universities require a placement test to begin.  This is the test that will qualify someone. Used worldwide, but is more commonly used in the US.


IELTS -International English Language Testing System


Interpretation: Same as TOEFL, but used more widely in the UK, New Zealand and Australia.

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