A Glossary of English Teaching Acronyms

The world of English language teaching is full of acronyms and initialisms. Learn them ASAP, tell your BFF, and then you’ll be ready to go AWOL, and begin your TEFL trip!

ESL – English as a Second Language

EFL – English as a Foreign Language

TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign language

TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages A note: All of these terms are used fairly interchangeably. Some people say that when in an English speaking country, you should use ESL, and when in other countries, you should use TEFL. TESOL can just be used as an umbrella term.

Trinity TESOL – a qualification administered by Trinity College – it takes 120 hours to complete and is recognised worldwide.

CELTA – The Cambridge English Language Teaching to Adults certificate – administered by Cambridge University, also taking 120 hours and recognised everywhere.

IELTS – the International English Language Testing System – an exam, commonly required by English language universities. It has spoken, written, reading and listening components and is taught and tested all over the world.

TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language – an exam administered by the Educational Testing Service.

TOEIC – The Test of English for International Communication – an English language test designed specifically to measure the everyday English skills of people working in an international environment.

TA – a Teaching Assistant – common if working with younger children.

L1/L2 – 1st and 2nd language – used as shorthand when referring to students and their language performance.