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Making sense of ESL acronymns?

2013/12/18

Whenever professionals get together to "talk shop" about their industries, special terms and lingo start to pop-up into their conversations and on to their resumes. Not to be left behind, English instructors have got their own wealth of special acronyms to bedazzle and beguile the non-initiated. CELTA, DELTA, TESOL, TEFL, ELT, ALT, EFL,.. WTF? Let's break them down and look at what they stand for.

TESL and TEFL are basically the same thing; Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language respectively, the teaching is done by an ELT, which is an English Language Teacher. Both TESL and TEFL are similar to TESOL, but they are not similar to TOEFL. You might think TESOL and TOEFL have just stuck an O in TESL and TEFL respectively, but no, that would be incorrect. Although TESOL can be used for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, which is a lot like TESL and TEFL. But like TOEFL, TESOL can also be used in reference to an organization. TESOL which refers to TEACHERS of English Speakers of Other Languages, is still unlike TOEFL, because TESOL also refers to the teaching or teachers. Despite looking similar to TEFL (which is similar in meaning to both TESOL and TESL) TOEFL does not refer to the act of teaching English, but rather to testing English, standing for TEST of English as a Foreign Language. Simply put, there's no way you can have a TOEFL in TEFL as an ELT, but you could TESOL with TESL for ELL's because ESL or EFL, as English is a Second or Foreign Language for them, respectively. That said, those same students could get a TOEFL, but they might not, because they might get a TOEIC or IELTS instead.

IELTS, TOEIC, and TOEFL all are EFL, ESL, or ESOL tests, which define their goals for testing English as either an International, Foreign, or as an Other language for ELL's, which if you missed it before, are English Language Learners to whom which English is L2. The MLAT is also a test, but for Modern Language Aptitude, whereas TSE and TWE, are tests for Written and Spoken Engish, respectively. IELTS stands for the International English Language Testing System, and jointly managed by the University of Cambridge ESOL Exams, and by the British Council IDP Education Pty Ltd, for ESOL, or English to Speakers of Other Languages, which is basically ESL or EFL combined, which as we know, are basically the same thing as TESOL. TOEIC, on the other hand, is a Test of English for International Communication, alot like TOEFL, and developed by the ETS to gauge adult English ability for business.  

So how can you as a TESOL get some certifications as an ELL? Well it depends on whether you are a NS or a NNS, a native speaker, or a non-native speaker, respectively. This brings us back to TESOL, but more importantly to CELTA, which is often the first step to getting your DELTA, a Diploma (or Certificate) in English Language Teaching for Adults, and is comparable to a TESOL which will teach you how to decrease TTT in favor of STT, and you might learn a little about TPR, and CBI, for SLA. Student Language Acquisition by Content-Based Instruction, Total Physical Response, and Student Talking Time versus Teacher Talking Time.
These certification are available to you from the BC, NCTE, or the IATEFL.

So it all sounds complicated, but just remember E is for English,  L is for Language, or Learning, O is for Other, F is for Foreign, and T is for Teacher, or Teaching... or Test, or Talking, or... oh how, just check out these websites for more information.


How to become a certified English teacher
List of English Teaching acronyms
Difference between Celta and Trinity

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