ESL – English as a Second Language

ESL classboard

What do EFL, ESL and ESOL mean? What is TEFL?

EFL, ESL and ESOL all refer to English language learning for non-native speakers.

  • EFL = English as a Foreign Language. Learning English when you live in a non-English-speaking country.
  • ESL = English as a Second Language. You live in an English-speaking country, but your first language is not English.
  • ESOL = English as a Second or Other Language.  This can mean either of the above.
  • ELT = simply means English language teaching.
  • TEFL is the teaching of English as a foreign language. This is when English is being taught in a country where it is not the native language: (For example: teaching English to Spanish people in Spain).
  • TESL is the teaching of English as a second language for people who need to learn English because they are now living in an English-speaking country; perhaps as immigrants. (For example: teaching people who emigrate to the U.K. or the U.S.A.)
  • TESOL is the American way of saying “teaching English to speakers of other languages” and embraces both TEFL and TESL.

Other terms include:

EAL (English as an additional language) ESD (English as a second dialect)
EIL (English as an international language) ELF (English as a lingua franca)
EAP (English for academic purposes) ELL (English language learner)

English is taught as a second language all over the world in one form or another. The number of people learning English as a second language has more than doubled over the past 20 years.
The following is taken from an article written by Steve Doughty in the Daily Mail, published in 2013:

  • English is a second language to one in 13 people.
  • More than 100 dialects are spoken by people in the UK.
  • Over 4 million in the UK speak English as their second language.

Thousands of people are learning to speak English right now, using the listen and repeat method. Why not learn to teach English with these ‘Read and Repeat’ lessons?

ESL - English as a Second Language