Terms describing language learners
- ESL = English as a Second Language. Describes students learning English in a context where the majority population speaks English. This term is being used less because of the seeming inaccuracy in the term ‘second language’ – many English learners are learning their third, fourth, or fifth language. However it’s not as inaccurate as some might suppose. ‘Second language’ is a general linguistics term referring to any language that adds to a person’s first language.
- ESOL = English for Speakers of Other Languages. This term was next to replace ESL in an attempt to correct the inaccuracy of ‘ESL’.
- ELL = English Language Learner. The current word used by the US Department of Education to describe students learning English.
- EFL = English as a Foreign Language. Describes students learning English in a context where the majority population speaks a language other than English.
- EAL = English as an Additional Language. Commonly used in the UK for persons learning English.
- LEP = Limited English Proficient. This is a dated term used to describe students learning English. It has been phased out in an effort to define students by their proficiencies rather than their deficiencies.
- CLD = Culturally and Linguistically Diverse. Sort of explains itself, not very frequently used, but known among professionals in the field.
Terms referring to specific sectors of the TESOL profession
- ESP = English for Specific Purposes. Specialized training for very specialized content areas. Some examples of ESP include English for Restaurant Workers, English for Medical Professionals, English for Business Purposes.
- EAP = English for Academic Purposes. Specialized training for students who wish to study at the university level in English.
- TESOL (TESL/TEFL ) = Teachers of English of Speakers of Other Languages. Refers to the international professional organization as well as the teacher training sector of the field.
Other generally known terms
- ELT = English Language Teaching. Describes the overarching field, regardless of context or population being taught.
- EIL = English as an International Language. Term describing the use of English around the world as a lingua franca.
Did I miss something that you know about? Leave it in the comments and I’ll add it!