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The list of acronyms related to the field of TESOL can be confusing at times. The question we are asked most commonly is simply ‘What is TESOL’? The list below will hopefully go someway to explaining. The acronyms are often used interchangeably and there are really only slight differences between them, if at all.

TESOL – Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages
This acronym is an umbrella term for both TEFL and TESL.

TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language
We most commonly use the term TEFL when referring to English being taught in a non English speaking country, for example teaching English to Italians in Italy.

TESL – Teaching English as a Second Language
This is used to refer to the teaching of English in an English speaking country, to people who are not native speakers of English. An example of this would be teaching immigrants in the USA or UK.

ELT
Most commonly used in the UK, this stands for English Language Teaching.

ESL – This stands for English as a Second Language
Most employers will usually accept TESOL, TEFL or TESL certificates as teaching English qualifications. In theory there are slight differences in the acronyms, however they are used interchangeably all over the world.