ESOL – English to Speakers of Other Languages

How To Teach English, Linguistics


New Citizens to the US, many of whom will have been taught ESOL.

ESOL is an acronym meaning English to Speakers of Other Languages.

It is all about people who do not have English as a mother tongue, learning English.

A more common term to ESOL is ESL which means English as a Second Language and refers to people learning English to live in an English speaking country, e.g.

  • immigrants who have moved to a new country
  • students studying at a university in an English speaking country
  • workers living and working (perhaps temporarily) in an English speaking country

The people in the photo are typical ESOL learners; they need English to live and work in their adopted country.

Compare this to EFL which is learning English as a Foreign Language, i.e. people learning English for business or travel etc but not intending to live in an English speaking country.

NB, in the majority of cases and in practical terms, there is very little difference between ESOL and ESL and EFL.

Useful Links

TEFL Glossary – a look at common acronyms and other useful TEFL terms

Teaching ESOL – a course on how to teach ESOL to students


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