What are ESL and EFL?
English Language Study
We are living in a world made of acronym soup; everywhere you look there are acronyms! Don’t get me wrong, I think acronyms which are abbreviations formed by using the first letter of a series of words, are very useful. They help us be brief and cut right to the chase quickly. The problem is that they are usually used by people who are familiar with the meaning of the long form. For those who are not familiar with the long form, acronyms can be very confusing and can lead to misunderstanding.
When we are talking about learning English there are two acronyms that are often used, they are ESL and EFL. So, what are ESL and EFL? Where I live in Southern California we have a very big population of people who speak Spanish. Therefore ESL classes have large numbers of people who speak Spanish as their primary language.
The ESL abbreviation stands for English As A Second Language, people are fairly familiar with this one. This is used when people come from a non-English speaking country and then go, probably live in an English speaking country and then learn English which will then be their second language. EFL means English as a Foreign Language and differs from ESL because the speaker is coming from a country that speaks English and is going to a country where the primary language is different. In the video above she used as an example of someone coming from the United States going to Thailand.
ESOL is another acronym that is often used. ESOL stands for English for Speakers of Other Languages. There is a fine line here to be considered. This term tends to combine ESL and EFL. You’d probably hear it used more often in Great Britain, Ireland and New Zealand. In the United States but be sure to take notice of the context it’s used in.
Another acronym you’ll see used is ELL which means English Language Learner. You’ll probably find this used in regards to children who are learning English from grades Kindergarten through 12th grade.
ESP when used regarding learning English does not mean Extra Sensory Perception or the very popular sports channel but English for Specific Purposes. English still remains one of the primary business languages. This is one of the main reasons non-English speaking business men and women learn English. For those who don’t want to necessarily become fluent, they need to learn enough English to get them by in regards to their specific business. For example this could be in the field of medicine or computer technology .
For those on the other side of learning there are two prominent acronyms. They are TEFL and TESOL. TEFL means Teaching English as a Foreign Language and TESOL means Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language. Guess what? They mean the same thing; TEFL is used more often in the UK whereas TESOL is used in the United States.
Don’t let the language acronyms confuse you. Once you learn the words that the letters stand for and you’ve used them enough times they will become second nature. Before you know it they’ll become part of your everyday language and you’ll be swimming in acronym soup with the rest of us!
Filed under: Learn English
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