TEFL Acronyms Explained

Anyone considering teaching English as a foreign language will probably have done some research and been confused and daunted by the array of acronyms that are used. Here are a few of the more common acronyms that you’ll likely come across as you consider pursing a TEFL Certificate.

General Acronyms

There’s no doubt that while you’ve been doing the research to how to become an English teacher, reading the blogs and deciding what course best suits you, you’ve come across the following terms:

  • ELT– English Language Teaching
  • ESL– English as a Second Language
  • TEFL– Teaching English as a foreign language
  • TESOL– Teaching English to speakers of other languages

Let’s get the confusion out of the way. They all mean the same thing. The many variations can make it confusing and people scrambling from website to website trying to find out exactly what they need in order to teach English abroad. However, all of these acronyms mean that you’re teaching English as a foreign language.

So why are there so many different names given for essentially the same thing? The various acronyms are generally attributed to different branding courses. The only thing that matters is doing a course that delivers an accredited certification, like our TEFL Course offers, which is universally accepted as a qualification allowing you to teach English as a foreign language.


ESOL – English for Speakers of Other Languages

ESOL is usually used to refer to people learning English because they have to live and work in English speaking countries. This acronym classifies the students and the classes in which learning English is primarily focused on the practical aspects of life in the country that knowing English is required. The practical information and scenarios taught in these classes include how to apply for jobs, dealing with the bank, understanding pay slips and working with your child’s school.

CELTA – Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults

You may have come across CELTA during your research, which is a specific brand of course operating under Cambridge University. This is similar to a Trinity TESOL (see below) and it is a full-time course taught over 4 weeks, or part-time across 6 months. This course is usually taught full-time over 4 weeks or part-time across 6 months and provides practical classroom experience with real students.

TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

The name TESOL is used by a lot of companies to describe their certificate, which can be confusing as the accredited Trinity TESOL certificate run by Trinity College, London is a highly regarded qualification accepted worldwide. So check any course that uses TESOL in its branding because the name alone does not guarantee quality or mean it is of the same standard issued by Trinity TESOL.

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