TEFL Acronyms

To a newbie, the overwhelming number of acronyms (like ELT, EFL) in English Teaching can be mind-melting. Why do they do it? How can you start out as an English teacher when you don’t even know what you need as the first qualification? If you’re asking yourself, “What does TESOL mean? And what does TEFL mean? And anyway,, what’s the difference between TESOL Certificate and CELTA?” then keep reading because this is a quick, no-nonsense guide to the minefield of “Teaching English as a Foreign Language” jargon.

TESOL
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Trinity TESOL Certificate
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

This is the globally recognised qualification that will start you off on your English teaching career. You might see it described as pre-service training, meaning that this is the teacher training that is required before you start teaching for real.

The examining body is Trinity College London and this is a Level 5 qualification in the UK National Qualification Framework, i.e. this is degree (or post-degree) level study.

At SGI, you can choose to do the teacher-training on a one-month intensive course (the most popular mode of study) or a 3 month part-time course. On successful completion, you will gain the Certificate and be able to apply for English teaching jobs around the world.

Essentially, this is a post-graduate course, but there have been occasions where people have been accepted who do not have a degree qualification, but have levels of education that would allow access to degree-level study.

SGI are happy to accept non-native speakers of English on to the certificate course, providing that they can prove an acceptable level of English, e.g. IELTS minimum band score of 7, or equivalent.

See here for a comparison of CELTA vs Trinity TESOL.

TEFL
Teaching English as a Foreign Language

TEFL is generally the term used for the English Language Teaching industry in the UK. The term generally used in Australia and America is TESOL...and this term is becoming more and more common now in the UK. Matters are confused even further by Canada using the term TESL (see next definition)!!! They all basically mean the same thing though - Teaching English to students who speak worse English than you.

TESL
Teaching English as a Second Language

The name for the English Teaching industry in Canada.

See here for a comparison of CELTA vs Trinity TESOL.

CELTA
Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults

The teacher-training qualification offered by Cambridge Examining Board.

Here are some more terms that you don’t really need to worry about at this stage...

EFL
English as a Foreign Language
ESL
English as a Second Language
ELT
English Language Teaching
ELF
English as a Lingua Franca (the term describing the fact that English is pretty much used by the entire global business community for the language of international communication)

Here are some English courses/exams that students learning English take (i.e . you don’t need to concern yourself with these just yet)...

IELTS
International English Language Testing System

The international, standardised exam for non-native English speakers which enables application to university study, work placement and/or immigration.

PTE Academic:
The Pearson Test of English

Another international exam for people learning English to get into a British university, apply for a job or an immigration process.

TOEFL
Test of English as a Foreign Language

Yet another international exam for students of English to prove their level of English. This test is more commonly accepted in the U.S.A. but it is also globally recognised.
TOEIC
Test of English for International Communication

An internationally recognised English test that focuses on Business English.

BULATS
Another Exam for non-natives doing Business in an ELF (English as a Lingua Franca) environment.
FCE
First Certificate in English

A Cambridge exam for English students at Upper-Intermediate level.

CAE
Certificate in Advanced English

Does what it says on the tin. Not for native English speakers

CPE
Certificate of Proficiency in English

The highest level English exam for non-natives. This is more difficult than the IELTS exam.

ESP
English for Specific Purposes

English lessons for a particular industry, e.g. Medical English for Doctors, Hospitality English for people who work in hotels, Financial English for Accountants... you get the idea - It’s not General English!

EAP
English for Academic Purposes

The group name for exams that English students take as preparation for higher education in an English speaking country, e.g. the IELTS exam.