Friday, May 18, 2007

What’s the Difference Between ESL and EFL?

ESL stands for English as a Second Language. EFL stands for English as a Foreign Language. Both are about teaching English to speakers of other Languages, which is why the more recent TESOL acronym is used to encompass both ESL and EFL (or TESL and TEFL—the "T" stands for "teaching").

The abbreviation "ESL" is used when the student learning English is in a primarily English-speaking country such as the U.S., the U.K. or Australia. "EFL" is used when the person learning English is in a primarily non-English-speaking county.

In addition to being more inclusive, "TESOL" is often thought to be more correct than ESL or TESL because the student learning English is often not learning English as a second language, but it may be his or her third, fourth or fifth, etc., language.

For more info, see my website article about the Differences between EFL and ESL.



Anonymous said...

you're a great help.

Jen said...

then there is no technical difference, meaning if i get certified in TEFL i could still teach ins TESOL?

Name: Debra Garcia, M.A. said...

Technically, the answer is yes. However, it's best to find out the preference of the location (be it country, school, etc.). Some places will prefer that you are certified with a TESOL certificate, others will prefer a CELTA certificate.

Also, what you are taught in a TEFL certificate course may vary from what you are taught in a TESOL course. TESOL and CELTA are generally the preferred certificates. I don't know of a certification that is specifically called a TEFL certificate.

Dazed by Inspiration said...

EFL generally teaches business, leisure and travel language. ESL or ESOL is aimed at learners who reside in a native English speaking country. The content of the ESOL lesson differs from the content of EFL lessons as it aims on teaching language for day-to-day usage and vocation-focused vocabulary.

Tesol Australia said...

Not exactly Jen, there is little difference between TESOL and TEFL as TESOL is for native speakers and TEFL for day to day usage.

Name: Debra Garcia, M.A. said...

I don't know if I agree with you, Tesol Australia. But perhaps the distinction is between certificates in the U.S. and those in Australia. (But you got your link ;)