What are TEFL acronyms?

Acronyms are an essential tool used in all professions and technical writing. They are powerful tools to reduce word content. However without knowing what the acronym stands for, they can form a barrier to understanding. In the ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching world there is certainly no shortage of acronyms. Here we look at a few and one in particular, TEFL.

Some useful teaching acronyms are:

ELT: English Language Teaching. This is a general term for teaching English and applies to the teaching of English to both native and non-native English speakers.

ELL: English Language Learner. This is a general term for anyone learning English and applies to learners of English who are native or non-native English speakers.

ESL: English as a Second Language: This relates to the teaching and learning of English to those whose first language is not English.

TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) are generally taken to mean the same thing (there are minor technical differences). Both relate to the teaching of ESL and learning of ELLs. In order to be a teacher of TEFL or TESOL, a qualification called a TEFL or TESOL certificate generally needs to be obtained. These certifications can be taken as an onsite course at a training center, or online from anywhere you wish.

TEFL teaching typically takes place in government or private schools, language centers and online. The requirements to be a TEFL teacher often depend on which type of teaching situation you will be in from those listed above. The minimum generally accepted qualification worldwide is a 120-hour TEFL certificate.

TEFL teachers are needed all around the world in major cities and small towns and there are usually more jobs available than qualified applicants to fill them. Contracts typically are around 9 months to one year and in many cases accommodation is made available for teachers.

Working hours and days will vary from country to country and the type of teaching situation you are in. Government schools for example work normal school hours, whereas a language school for adults will work mainly after normal working hours, when the learners are free from work.

TEFL teachers work in almost every country around the world, with some areas, particularly large cities having hundreds of language schools operating. There are many websites offering TEFL employment opportunities throughout the world. Completion of a TEFL certification is usually a prerequisite for employment.

Due to the range of school types, TEFL teaching jobs cover a vast range of ages from Kindergarten to adults. For this reason there are a number of specialized courses that TEFL teachers can take should they wish to concentrate their teaching in a specific area, such as young learners or business English.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a great way to see another country, immerse yourself in its culture and possibly even learn their language whilst teaching yours.