What do all these acronyms mean? Is it ESL? Do you call the students ELLs or ELs?
The acronyms used in the field of second language acquisition studies change so often it makes my head spin and I am one of the professionals in the field! Originally, teaching students who did not know English was called teaching of English as a Second Language (ESL) students. This was difficult and long to say. Also, many students already knew more than one language prior to learning English so the “Second Language” piece did not sit right with linguists. Limited English Proficient (LEP) was also viewed as outdated and thus, the term changed to English Language Learners or ELLs. This is where I found my comfort zone and as soon as I did the acceptable lingo changed once again to EL’s meaning simply English Learners. Here are some of the numerous acronyms you might see while viewing information about teaching students English as a Second Language. I currently call myself an ESL Teacher, however, I call my students ELLs or ELs depending on the situation. Most of the time I just call them kids. 😀
- ESL or L2: English as a Second Language. The field of study of second language acquisition such as programs, classes and for students learning English as additional language.
- EFL: English as a Foreign Language: typically refers to students learning English in American university programs where international students study English.
- ESOL: English Speakers of Other Languages-this refers to the learners who are identified with still in the process of acquiring English fluency, students who speak no English, or those who grew up speaking another primary language at home other than English.
- ESP: English for Specific Purposes: for business, science, technology, etc.
- EAP: English for Academic Purpose.
- LEP: Limited English Proficient.
- TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language – a term that refers to teacher training programs in EFL.
- TESOL: U.S.-based international organization of teachers of English as a second or foreign language.
- TESOL: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages – a term used to distinguish English language teaching as a profession that is separate to language arts teaching in the U.S. It also refers to teacher examinations developed by Trinity College in London such as a Certificate in TESOL.
Does an ESL teacher have to speak the language of the student she is teaching?
No. ESL teachers are experts at teaching English to students whose native language is any language other than English. A bilingual teacher is a teacher who speaks the language of her students as her additional language and teaches English as well as teaches in the student’s native language.