Posts Tagged ‘TESL’

Difference Between ESL and EFL

An estimated one billion people around the world are currently learning English. They choose to learn English for any number of reasons: to attend colleges and universities in English-speaking countries, to have better business communications. to enhance their employ ability, to facilitate government relations, to create a more rewarding travel experience, or, for many, to be able to communicate day to day in the English-speaking country in which they reside.

ESL stands for English as a second language and TESL for teaching English as a second language. Students in these programs are living in an environment where English is not their first language. They might be immigrants or refugees in an English-speaking country and need to learn the language to cope with day-to-day life.

EFL stands for English as a foreign language and TEFL for teaching English as a foreign language. Students in these programs may live in a country where their own language is the primary tongue; they may need to learn English for academic study, in preparation for travel to an English-speaking country, or for business purposes.

For some professionals the terminology might be helpful in defining the students, but, in essence, it doesn’t reflect any critical differences in teaching methods or approach. Others feel that there are differences – in approach and cultural content of materials – and that the ESL versus EFL terminology should reflect those differences.

A few recognized differences between the disciplines:

  • EFL learners generally spend fewer hours per week studying English then their ESL counterparts in setting within English-speaking countries.
  • EFL learners have little exposure to English outside the classroom and also have little need or opportunity to practice their newly acquired language skills.
  • A classroom of EFL learners has a common native-language background. ESL classes generally consist of students from a variety of countries.