ESL - English as a Second Language

ESOL - English for Speakers of Other Languages

EFL - English as a Foreign Language

ESL is the term used in the United States, Canada and Australia to describe English language teaching to people who live in a country where English is the official language, but whose native language is not English. This type of education would typically include immigrants, refugees and their children. In Canada and Australia, the acronym ESD (English as a second dialect) is used to refer to programmes for Canadian First Nations people and the indigenous people of Australia.

ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) is the equivalent term used in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand. In the UK, the term EAL (English as an additional language) is used (rather than ESOL), when talking about teaching English to non-natives speakers in primary and secondary schools.

For migrants and refugees, this sort of English is taught to speakers of other languages, so that they can learn to function in their new host country. For children, this can be taught in the schooling system. Adults are taught English so that they can perform the daily necessities of life, and find and hold down a job. It is often funded by the host government to help the newcomers to adapt and settle into their adopted country. This is sometimes accomplished as a special citizenship programme.

EFL refers to the learning and use of English in a non-native English country, that is, where English is not the mother tongue or official language.

Learning can occur as part of the normal school curriculum, in private language schools, at the students' homes, or even sometimes abroad, when the students travel to an English speaking country for a period of time in order to improve their English.

Normally EFL is done so that the students can pass an exam as part of their school or university education, or for career advancement when people want to work for an international company or organisation.

Sometimes these three terms are used interchangeably when referring to materials, jobs and resources. The University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (FCE, CAE, CPE and IELTS) are also done by EFL and ESL students.

For the equivalent teaching terms that refer to this type of language learning, refer to TEFL, TESL, ELT and TESOL.

The University of Cambridge offer the following ESOL examinations:


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