Acronyms for the Teaching English as a Second Language World

When I first started getting into teaching ESL, the amount of acronyms was overwhelming! I knew ESL stood for English as a second language, but I wondered what TESOL, ELL, and EFL stood for. As with any profession, there are abbreviations or words that only make sense to people in that field. So I’d like to provide a few explanations of acronyms for those of you who are as confused as I was when I first started in ESL.

  • ELL- English language learner; Anyone learning English is referred to as an ELL. 
  • EFL or TEFL- (Teaching) English as a foreign language; Although ESL and EFL are often used interchangeably, they are, in fact, different. EFL is teaching or learning English in an environment where English is not spoken by the majority. So, teaching English in the US or the UK would be ESL. Teaching English in China or Costa Rica would be EFL. This is similar to learning French in high school as an American student. 
  • TESOL or ESOL – (Teaching) English to speakers of other languages; This refers to teaching English to anyone whose native language is not English 
  • TESOL, Inc.- An international,  professional organization of TESOL teachers. 
  • TOEFL- Test of English as a foreign language; This is a common test worldwide to gauge English ability. Most universities require a TOEFL score for admittance if English is not the student’s first language. TOEFL iBT is the TOEFL internet-based test
  • IEP- Intensive English program; This type of program is solely English classes focused on helping ELLs master the English language. Most IEPs are found in university settings. 
  • CALL- Computer assisted language learning; Language learning done through special software on the computer or online
  • SLA- Second language acquisition; the process of learning a second language
  • L1- first language; Example- Spanish is the L1 of someone from Colombia. 
  • L2- second language; Example- English is the L2 of someone from Colombia learning English. 
  • NNS- non-native speaker; anyone who does not speak a certain language as their first language 
  • ESP- English for specific purposes; this is English for certain jobs, such as English for medical professionals, English for tourism, ETC.  

 

Hopefully these were helpful to you. I’ll try and post another set in the near future! Share on your social media site if you think you have friends that would find this useful! Thanks for reading.

Starting Your ESL Adventure Abroad

I’ve had several people ask me recently about how to find an ESL (English as a Second Language, in case you didn’t know) teaching  job overseas, so I thought I might share my wisdom, if it can indeed be considered wisdom. :]

I think the first step is to narrow down where you want to be. You’re not going to find a job by simply saying, “I want to teach ESL abroad.” Narrow it down to a part of the world- Asia, South America, etc. Do a little research and decide on your country. If you already know that, you’re doing well! Then on to the city. Consider things such as cost of living, average ESL teacher salary, weather, etc. Would you enjoy living and working in that city? Ok, you’ve got it narrowed down to a city. Some people can skip this step, because when they think of teaching overseas, they already picture themselves in a certain place.

Let’s take Shanghai, China as an example. As you probably know, Shanghai is huge (a mere 23 million people live there!), so think about what area of town you would like to be in.You don’t want to accept a job that you think is in the city-center of Shanghai, and it turns out to be on the outskirts 2 hours away from downtown.  After you narrow that down to one or two areas, research what schools are located there.  Are you wanting to teach at a university? An elementary school? A private language center?  Most schools advertise their foreign teacher positions on their website, and you can go from there. It’s difficult to just do an internet search for “ESL jobs” or even a search for “ESL jobs in China”; the results will be overwhelming!  So the more specific you can be, the more success you will have.

Finding a credible job can also be done through some organizations. Are you a member of LinkedIn? LinkedIn is a social networking site that is used for professional purposes. People post and look for jobs and just make connections with people in their field of study or field of work. Both professionals and students have accounts. LinkedIn also has groups that you can join. Groups such as TESOL International, ESL International, and even ESL Teaching Jobs would be perfect for you to look at. It could also connect you with others who have either already taught abroad or are planning to. Here is the link to their homepage. http://www.linkedin.com/home?trk=hb_home

Have you heard of the organization TESOL International? I am a member, and it is such a great resource! They give practical teaching information but also open ESL job positions around the world, everywhere from Saudi Arabia to Thailand to Costa Rica. And the best part is, they only post jobs from trusted employers.  You can become a student member at a cheaper rate, so if you’re a student, look into that. Check out their site: http://www.tesol.org/s_tesol/index.asp

Once you are seriously considering a job at a specific school, TALK TO SOMEONE who worked there. This is by far the best thing you can do. The school will talk itself up to the high heavens, but someone like you, a person leaving their home country to teach in a foreign land, will be able to tell you the truths and the myths, the pros and the cons, and answer any questions you have. Ask them all the important questions- did the school always pay them and pay them on time, did they provide a place to stay, did they give any travel stipends, did they give paid holidays, if so how many, did they treat their teachers well, etc. Ask anything and everything. Your potential school should be willing to give you the e-mail address of  a former teacher. If they are unwilling, there’s your first sign!

I think that if you follow these steps, you will be well on your way to finding an ESL job. I can see you now…teaching ESL during the week in a Thai university and relaxing on a sunny beach on the weekends. Ah, that’s the life! If you have any more questions, feel free to ask! I’d love to help. Or are you currently or have you been an expat teaching abroad and have some tips on finding an ESL job? Please share with us!

Love,

Your resident ESL expert :]