The terms explained and typical TEFL / TESOL / ESOL FAQS answered.
If you are a bit bamboozled by these common teaching English acronyms, look no further than our handy explanation below. We’ve also answered some of the typical questions we often get asked about these terms.
Firstly a brief overview of the meanings with an at-a-glance explanation:
TEFL = Teaching English as a Foreign Language. The teaching of English to learners in their own non-English speaking country. Typically this takes place in language schools or in-company business English teaching. It can also be in a freelance 1-1 capacity, either face to face or online. Traditionally it is the name of the profession in the UK and Europe.
TESOL = Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Generally TESOL means the same as TEFL. TESOL is the broader term for our industry and is used more widely in Asia and the Americas.
ESOL = English to Speakers of Other Languages, as learned by asylum seekers, refugees or migrants and delivered in an English speaking country.
It is good to know the meaning of common industry jargon but if you’re still wondering where to go next, let’s address some related FAQs to explain further:
“I want to teach English abroad, which qualification do I need?”
That’s easy. You will need a TEFL or TESOL qualification. Employers understand both terms as interchangeable, as course content and the teaching approach being usually the same. What often matters to employers more is length of course (usually +120 hours) and accreditation. It can also help to be a native English speaker with a degree and for certain countries these can be essential for a visa to be issued.
“Which qualification to teach English to migrants in the UK/USA/Australia?”
While there are some commonalities between TEFL/TESOL and ESOL, ESOL courses are geared more to teaching learners in a native English setting and so a teaching ESOL course is recommended.
“What is the difference between ESOL and TEFL/TESOL in the classroom?“
The teaching methodology is similar in that both utilise communicative techniques, total immersion in English and give students plenty of opportunities to practise English. It is the material that will differ, along with the emphasis. A lot of class time in an ESOL setting focuses on functional language needed to survive in England, America or New Zealand, for example. This may involve role-playing (e.g. a visit to the doctor, filling in forms or applying for jobs, for example). You may also be teaching more basic literacy as some learners may not be able to read/write in their own language. There is more here on the language ESOL speakers need.
In contrast, in the TEFL classroom the lessons can be broader in scope and are often less real-world focused; you may be discussing the environment in one lesson, while studying the narrative tenses in the next.
The similarities outweigh the differences, however, which is good to know as people in the English teaching profession usually only take either a TEFL or ESOL qualification yet may teach a variety of learners throughout their career.
“Can you recommend the right course for me?“
Yes! As it happens we offer accredited online TEFL/TESOL and teaching ESOL courses and if you’re not sure which on your next step, we’d be happy to discuss the best course option for you.
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