Terms Every English Language Teacher Must Know

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The TEFL world is full of acronyms. It’s easy to get lost in the verbiage and have your head spinning. But not knowing them can be equally problematic and even embarrassing.

This article focuses on the most commonly used acronyms in the business of teaching English. It is expected that any Teacher who has taken a TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, DELTA or any other recognized certification know these terms. Let’s get right to it.

TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) are perhaps the most common terms.

The term ELT (English Language Teaching) has quite recently come into use as an umbrella term which aims to include everything in the Teaching English field.

TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is another umbrella term, similar to ELT. In the USA, Canada and Australia, the terms TESL and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) are much more widely used than TEFL, but basically the concept is the same.

TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) is teaching immigrants in English-speaking countries, though this area is also, confusingly, referred to as ESOL. The students are studying an ESL (English as a Second Language) course.

CALL – Computer Assisted Language Learning. CALL refers to language instruction through the use of technology. It usually refers to using language learning software to teach specific language points.

CLT – Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). This is an umbrella term for learner-centred, authentic language acquisition principles that inform the most widely practised language teaching approach used in second language learning classrooms today. Also referred to as the Communicative Approach. Our course will follow this approach.

DOS – Director of Studies (usually in charge of tutors, classroom management, the curriculum etc. in a private language school)

EAP – English for Academic Purposes. EAP involves teaching students who are studying, or who intend to study, in higher education in an English speaking country. This could include teaching study skills or preparing students for an exam.

ESP – English for Specific Purposes. ESP refers to teaching English to learners with specific needs and objectives, and usually refers to teaching professionals in a specific field.

L1 – A student’s first language (the student’s native language). If someone asks you if you use L1 in the classroom, they are asking if you use your students’ native language, or if you only use L2, i.e. English.

L2 – A student’s second language (English)

PPP – Presentation, Practice, Production. This is a widely used model of classroom teaching. You will study and follow this model in your lesson planning and delivery.

STT – Student talking time.  The amount of time that students spend talking in class (ideally as much as possible).

TTT – Teacher talking time. The amount of time the teacher spends talking during a class (ideally it should be as little as possible).

There are more but these will put you ahead of the group.

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