TEFL or TESOL?
many people, teaching English TEFL is the only option. But do you know
the difference between TEFL
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TEFL is an acronym for Teaching English as a Foreign Language.
It usually refers to teaching people who are not living in an
English-speaking country, although they may be visiting for a short
time to study there.
TESOL is an acronym for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
This usually refers to people who are resident in an English-speaking
country. They are usually there either permanently or long-term.
If you do not want to work in an English-speaking country, then you
will need to teach TEFL, but if you live in an English-speaking country
you may have the choice of which one you want to teach.
Sometimes the two are very similar but there are differences.
TEFL and TESOL Compared
There may be different qualification requirements for the two different
disciplines, but broadly they require the same skills.
The specific qualifications required will depend on which country you
The biggest difference between the two is in the course content.
Students who are resident in an English-speaking country will need to
be able to communicate
This is far more important than having perfect grammar
. So TESOL
) lessons usually
focus on practical skills such as applying for jobs, finding
accommodation, booking travel tickets, etc.
TEFL classes, on the other hand, are much more concerned with accurate
grammar, with expanding vocabulary
and with academic skills.
Another difference is often in the general educational level of the
Students who have moved to an English-speaking country often (but not
always) have had a low level of education in their country, and may
even be illiterate in their own language.
This means that their reading
skills are often a long way below their speaking
skills. You will probably have a mix of nationalities in an ESOL class.
are often students in their own country, or successful adults who have
a good standard of education and can afford to pay for private English
If you are teaching short-stay EFL students in an English-speaking
country they may be of mixed nationalities, but if you are teaching
then they should all have the same first language.
This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage!
Advantages and Disadvantages of each
- The rates of pay for TEFL and TESOL teachers
may differ, depending on where you live.
- TESOL teachers tend to work in the public
sector and TEFL teachers are more commonly in the private sector.
- This may affect other benefits such as
pensions, healthcare and holidays.
- One disadvantage of working in the public
sector is that a teacher will usually have more paperwork to complete
than teachers in the private sector.
- If you work in the ESOL sector, you will
probably teach your students for a longer period of time. You will see
them progress (hopefully!) and will see things you teach them make a
difference in their lives.
- If you work in the EFL sector you will be able
to meet a very wide range of students, and you will be able to teach
different ages, different levels and different subjects. You will
probably be able to create lessons on a wider variety of themes.
A rewarding career
Whether you are teaching English TEFL or TESOL you will meet some
wonderful students, help them improve their knowledge and their lives,
and if you enjoy it, it won't feel like work at all.