Let’s get it right! We, the teachers, should sound like we at least know what we are talking about. Every time I read or hear someone say they are an ESL teacher in Taiwan, it drives me nuts!!! :no-no:
[b][color=#4000FF]EFL: English as a Foreign Language[/color]
[color=#408000]ESL: English as a Second Language[/color][/b]
There is a difference between the two, not only by definition, but also in teaching methods and needs. The main differences between EFL and ESL are the students and the location where English is being taught to speakers of other languages. Starting with the basics:
EFL stands for: English as a Foreign Language
ESL stands for: English as a Second Language.
An English teacher who teaches English to speakers of other languages in a non-English speaking country is teaching EFL. For example, an American living and teaching English in Taiwan is an EFL teacher. His or her students are most likely Taiwanese and their first language (L1) is Chinese. The students are studying EFL…NOT ESL!
A teacher living and teaching English in an English speaking country, such as the U.S. or Australia, is teaching ESL. The teacher’s students are mostly likely students who are from non-English speaking countries, but are now living and studying English in an English-speaking country.
For the English teacher, the differences between EFL and ESL may require different lesson plans, different approaches and different topics. An English language learner studying ESL may have more immediate English needs. The student may not need to worry about grammar right away, but may need to learn basic survival skills as quickly as possible. A student studying EFL may not be as concerned about learning English as quickly as possible because he or she is probably living in a country where he or she speaks the primary language of the country and is able to take care of the necessities of daily life.
Many private schools tend to teach in, what they like to call, an immersed environment where only English is spoken. This means that they treat English teaching as ESL and not EFL. In this instance, many people assume it is ok to refer to it as ESL, but in fact the student is still living in an EFL environment – the student does not need or use English in their day to day needs outside the classroom.