Abbreviations for English Language Students & Teachers

BINT at Vancouver English Centre

ESL, EFL, ESL, TEFL, TESOL, ELT, TEC, TBE, TOEFL, TOEIC, TSE, TWE, and SLEP are acronyms that are widely used by people who teach English.  Here is a brief explanation of what these terms mean.

English as A Second Language


ESL(English as a Second Language) is the most commonly used term to describe this area of language study.  Any English language teacher, whether abroad or in Canada, is considered an ESL teacher.

Learning English in Various Locations


Some teachers, however, distinguish between a student who is learning English in his or her native country and one who is living in the U.S., England, Australia, etc.

Thus, some teachers describe a student who is studying English in Mexico as an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) student.  A student studying English at a Vancouver language school is considered an ESL (English as a Second Language student).  ESL and EFL are widely interchangeable.  Few ESL/EFL teachers place much significance on the difference. TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages) is the name of a large professional organization based in the United States which is which helps ESL teachers around the world. There are also many local TESOL affiliates, such as WATESOL (Washington TESOL), CATESOL (California TESOL) and Mexico TESOL.  A Masters in TESOL is the usual name for an advanced degree in English language teaching.


English Language Teaching

ELT (English Language Teaching) is a popular term used especially by English teachers in Western Europe.  ELT is not commonly used by language schools in Canada or the United States.
TESL Certificate is a standard name for a certificate in teaching English. TESL Certificate graduates may teach in both ESL and EFL environments (abroad or in Canada and the U.S.).


Teaching English

TEFL Certificate is also a standard name for a certificate in teaching English. TEFL Certificate graduates may teach in both ESL and EFL environments (abroad or in Canada and the U.S.).  Many aspiring language teachers  specifically seek out TEFL Certificate Programs in Canada, the United States, or Mexico because they want to teach English overseas.
The difference between TEFL Certificates and TESL Certificates is essentially the same as the difference between EFL Courses and ESL Courses, as explained above.  Most language schools consider both TEFL Certificates and TESL Certificates acceptable when evaluating prospective English teachers.

TEC is a less common term which means Teaching English to Children.

TBE means Teaching Business English.


English Tests


(Test Of English as a Foreign Language) is a popular English language test that is widely recognized around the world.  It is especially important to international students who want to apply for admission to colleges or universities in Canada and the United States.
TOEIC(Test Of English For International Communication) is one of the world's most recognized English tests.  More than one million people take the test every year. It is used by corporations and government agencies to assess the English ability of their employees.

TSE (Test of Spoken English) measures the ability of nonnative speakers of English to communicate orally in English.
TWE (Test of Written English) is required for students who take the paper format of the TOEFL test. The TWE test gives students an opportunity to demonstrate their skill at performing academic writing tasks similar to those required of students in North American universities.

SLEP (Secondary Level English Proficiency) test is a measure of English language ability for nonnative speakers in two primary areas: listening comprehension and reading comprehension.

Elective Courses
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English Through Music and Drama Course
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Special Programs Sightseeing + English
The Vacation Study Program combines morning classes with afternoon sightseeing and leisure activities.  At least one sightseeing activity is usually offered each weekend. 
Internship + English
The Business Internship Program is a Super-Intensive Program for ambitious students and professionals who want to personally experience the Canadian business environment. Although this course emphasizes business skills, it is beneficial to anyone who uses English in their workplace.
TEFL / TESL Programs
Introduction to Teaching English as a Foreign Language This course is for people with little or no experience teaching languages.  The focus is on teaching English to adults in a practical, efficient manner. 
Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certificate Program The Vancouver English Centre TEFL Certificate Program is for people are serious about a career in teaching.  It focuses on teaching English to adults in a practical, efficient manner.
Vancouver English Centre encourages English language students from all over the world to enjoy a cultural immersion experience in Canada.  Although we normally have students from up to 30 different countries, we constantly try to improve the diversity of our student body.  Thus, we frequently offer scholarships to students from specific countries.

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