You may have encountered schools referring to English Language teaching as TEFL or TESOL and wondered what the difference is. The world of English language teaching is heavily laden with acronyms, which can be daunting at first glance. But most of the time it’s just different terminology for the same concept.

So, to help you navigate your research, we’ve put together this basic terminology guide:


Teaching English as a Foreign Language refers to teaching English language in countries where English is not the native language. A Mexican student learning English in Mexico, for example, is learning English as a foreign language.


Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages is an all-encompassing term that covers both TEFL and TESL and is commonly used by membership organizations like TESOL International and by universities to refer to graduate degree programs in English language teaching, such as the MA TESOL.


Teaching English as a Second Language is used similarly to TEFL/TESOL, but is more commonly used in Canada.

TEFL/TESOL Certificate

This covers a broad spectrum of different certificate courses of which CELTA is the most widely accepted.


The Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults is accredited and assessed by Cambridge University in the UK and is the most internationally recognized TEFL qualification in the world and the longest running TEFL Certification Course.

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