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English as a second or foreign language is the use of English by speakers with different native languages. Language education for people learning English may be known as English as a second language (ESL), English as a foreign language (EFL), English as an additional language (EAL), or English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). The aspect in which ESL is taught is referred to as teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), teaching English as a second language (TESL) or teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). Technically, TEFL refers to English language teaching in a country where English is not the official language, TESL refers to teaching English to non-native English speakers in a native English speaking country and TESOL covers both. In practice, however, each of these terms tends to be used more generically across the full field. The one you are more likely to hear depends largely on your location - with TEFL more widely used in the UK and TESL or TESOL in the US.[1]

The term "ESL" has been seen by some to indicate that English would be of subordinate importance; for example, where English is used as a lingua franca in a multilingual country. The term can be a misnomer for some students who have learned several languages before learning English. The terms "English language learners" (ELL), and, more recently, "English learners" (EL), have been used instead, and the students' native languages and cultures are considered important.[2]

Methods of learning English are highly variable, depending on the student's level of English proficiency and the manner and setting in which they are taught, which can range from required classes in school to self-directed study at home, or a blended combination of both. In some programs, educational materials (including spoken lectures and written assignments) are provided in a mixture of English, and the student's native language. In other programs, educational materials are always in English, but the vocabulary, grammar, and context clues may be modified to be more easily understood by students with varying levels of comprehension (Wright, 2010). Adapting comprehension, insight-oriented repetitions, and recasts are some of the methods used in training. However, without proper cultural immersion (social learning grounds) the associated language habits and reference points (internal mechanisms) of the host country are not completely transferred through these programs (Wright, 2010). As a further complication, the syntax of the language is based on Latin grammar hence it suffers inconsistencies.[3][4][5] The major engines that influence the language are the United States and the United Kingdom and they both have assimilated the language differently so they differ in expressions and usage. This is found to a great extent primarily in pronunciation and vocabulary. Variants of the English language also exist in both of these countries (e.g. African American Vernacular English).

The English language has a great reach and influence, and English is taught all over the world. In countries where English is not usually a native language, there are two distinct models for teaching English: Educational programs for students who want to move to English-speaking countries, and other programs for students who do not intend to move but who want to understand English content for the purposes of education, entertainment, employment or conducting international business. The differences between these two models of English language education have grown larger over time, and teachers focusing on each model have used different terminology, received different training, and formed separate professional associations. English is also taught as a second language for recent immigrants to English-speaking countries, which faces separate challenges because the students in one class may speak many different native languages.

Between 1998 and 2000, the Council of Europe's language policy division developed it's Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. The aim of this framework was to have a common system for foreign language testing and certification, to cover all European languages and countries.

The Common European Framework (CEF) divides language learners into three levels:

Each of these levels is divided into two sections, resulting in a total of six levels for testing (A1, A2, B1, etc.).

This table compares ELT exams according to the CEF levels:

CEF Level ALTE Level RQF Level PTE General Trinity College London ESOL GESE Trinity College London ESOL ISE UBELT exam IELTS Cambridge English Language Assessment BULATS Cambridge English Language Assessment BEC Cambridge English Language Assessment General Cambridge English Language Assessment YLE Cambridge English Language Assessment Skills for Life[59] CaMLA[60]
C2 Level 5 Level 3 Level 5 Grade 12 ISE IV 4.0–5.0 8.5–9.0 90–100 n/a CPE n/a n/a ECPE
C1 Level 4 Level 2 Level 4 Grade 10,11 ISE III 3.0–3.5 7.0–8.0 75–89 Higher CAE n/a Level 2 MET, MELAB
B2 Level 3 Level 1 Level 3 Grade 7,8,9 ISE II 2.0–2.5 5.5 – 6.5 60–74 Vantage FCE n/a Level 1 MET, MELAB, ECCE
B1 Level 2 Entry 3 Level 2 Grade 5,6 ISE I 1.5 4.0 – 5.0 40–59 Preliminary PET n/a Entry 3 MET, MELAB
A2 Level 1 Entry 2 Level 1 Grades 3,4 ISE 0 1.0 n/a 20–39 n/a KET Flyers Entry 2 MET, YLTE
A1 Breakthrough Entry 1 Level A1 Grade 2 n/a <1.0 n/a 0-19 n/a n/a Movers Entry 1 YLTE

Qualifications for teachers

Qualifications vary from one region or jurisdiction to the next. There are also different qualifications for those who manage or direct TESOL programs[61]

Between 1998 and 2000, the Council of Europe's language policy division developed it's Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. The aim of this framework was to have a common system for foreign language testing and certification, to cover all European languages and countries.

The Common European Framework (CEF) divides language learners into three levels:

Each of these levels is divided into two sections, resulting in a total of six levels for testing (A1, A2, B1, etc.).

This table compares ELT exams according to the CEF levels:

CEF Level ALTE Level This table compares ELT exams according to the CEF levels:

Qualifications vary from one region or jurisdiction to the next. There are also different qualifications for those who manage or direct TESOL programs[61][62]

Non-native speakers

Most people who teach English are in fact not native speakers[citation needed]. They are state school teachers in countries around the world, and as such, they hold the relevant teaching qualification of their country, usually with a specialization in teaching English. For example, teachers in Hong Kong hold the Language Proficiency Assessment for Teachers. Those who work in private language schools may, from commercial pressures, have the same qualifications as native speakers (see below). Widespread problems exist of minimal qualifications and poor quality providers of training, and as the industry becomes more professional, it is trying to self-regulate to eliminate these.[63]

Australian qualifications

The Australian Skills Quality Authority[64] accredits vocational TESOL qualifications such as the 10695NAT Certificate IV in TESOL and the 10688NAT Diploma in TESOL. As ASQA is an Australian Government accreditation authority, these qualifications rank within the Australian Qualifications Framework.[65] And most graduates work in vocational colleges in Australia. These TESOL qualifications are also accepted internationally and recognized in countries such as Japan, South Korea, and China.

British qualifications

Common, respected qualifications for teachers within the United Kingdom's sphere of influence include certificates and diplomas issued by Trinity College London ESOL and Cambridge English Language Assessment (henceforth Trinity and Cambridge).

A certificate course is usually undertaken before starting to teach. This is sufficient for most EFL jobs and for some ESOL ones. CertTESOL (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), issued by Trinity, and CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults), issued by Cambridge, are the most widely taken and accepted qualifications for new teacher trainees. Courses are offered in the UK and in many countries around the world. It is usually taught full-time over a one-month period or part-time over a period of up to a year.

Teachers with two or more years of teaching experience who want to stay in the profession and advance their career prospects (including school management and teacher training) can take a diploma course. Trinity off

Most people who teach English are in fact not native speakers[citation needed]. They are state school teachers in countries around the world, and as such, they hold the relevant teaching qualification of their country, usually with a specialization in teaching English. For example, teachers in Hong Kong hold the Language Proficiency Assessment for Teachers. Those who work in private language schools may, from commercial pressures, have the same qualifications as native speakers (see below). Widespread problems exist of minimal qualifications and poor quality providers of training, and as the industry becomes more professional, it is trying to self-regulate to eliminate these.[63]

Australian qualifications

Common

Common, respected qualifications for teachers within the United Kingdom's sphere of influence include certificates and diplomas issued by Trinity College London ESOL and Cambridge English Language Assessment (henceforth Trinity and Cambridge).

A certificate course is usually undertaken before starting to teach. This is sufficient for most EFL jobs and for some ESOL ones. CertTESOL (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), issued by Trinity, and CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Ad

A certificate course is usually undertaken before starting to teach. This is sufficient for most EFL jobs and for some ESOL ones. CertTESOL (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), issued by Trinity, and CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults), issued by Cambridge, are the most widely taken and accepted qualifications for new teacher trainees. Courses are offered in the UK and in many countries around the world. It is usually taught full-time over a one-month period or part-time over a period of up to a year.

Teachers with two or more years of teaching experience who want to stay in the profession and advance their career prospects (including school management and teacher training) can take a diploma course. Trinity offers the Trinity Licentiate Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (DipTESOL) and Cambridge offers the Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults (DELTA). These diplomas are considered to be equivalent and are both accredited at level 7 of the revised National Qualifications Framework. Some teachers who stay in the profession go on to do an MA in a relevant discipline such as applied linguistics or ELT. Many UK master's degrees require considerable experience in the field before a candidate is accepted onto the course.

The above qualifications are well-respected within the UK EFL sector, including private language schools and higher education language provision. However, in England and Wales, in order to meet the government's criteria for being a qualified teacher of ESOL in the Learning and Skills Sector (i.e. post-compulsory or further education), teachers need to have the Certificate in Further Education Teaching Stage 3 at level 5 (of the revised NQF) and the Certificate for ESOL Subject Specialists at level 4. Recognised qualifications which confer one or both of these include a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in ESOL, the CELTA module 2, and City & Guilds 9488. Teachers of any subject within the British state sector are normally expected to hold a PGCE and may choose to specialise in ELT.

Teachers teaching adult ESL in Canada in the federally funded Language Instruction to Newcomers (LINC) program must be TESL certified. Most employers in Ontario encourage certification by TESL Ontario. Often this requires completing an eight-month graduate certificate program at an accredited university or college. See the TESL Ontario or TESL Canada websites for more information.

United States qualificationsNote that some of the terms below may be restricted to one or more countries, or may be used with different meanings in different countries, particularly the US and UK. See further discussion is Terminology, and types above.

Types of English

  • BEBusiness English
  • EAL – English as an additional language
  • EAPEnglish for academic purposes
  • EFL – English as a foreign language
  • EIL – English as an international language (see main article at International English)
  • ELF – English as a lingua franca, a common language that is not the mother tongue of any of the participants in a discussion
  • ELL – English language learner
  • ELT – English language teaching
  • ESL – English as a second language
  • ESOL – English for speakers of other languages
  • ESPEnglish for specific purposes, or English for special purposes (e.g. technical English, scientific English, English for medical professionals, English for waiters)
  • EST – English for science and technology (e.g. technical English, scientific English)
  • TEFLTeaching English as a foreign language. This link is to a page about a subset of TEFL, namely travel-teaching. More generally, see the discussion in Terminology and types.
  • TESL – Teaching English as a second language
  • TESOL – Teaching English to speakers of other languages, or Teaching English as a second or other languages. Also the short name for TESOL International Association.
  • TYLE – Teaching Young Learners English. Note that "Young Learners" can mean under 18, or much younger.

Other abbreviations