The mail function has been disabled by an administrator.

TESL Lingo

By  Kim Fisher June 18, 2009

TESL terms explained.

There's a whole host of acronyms associated with teaching English as a second language, though Tyers suggests they're relatively interchangeable. "At the end of the day, they all mean the same thing," she jokes. "You're teaching English - right?" But she admits there are some slight differences, so here's a sample of the letters most commonly thrown around in the field.


TESL: Teaching English as a Second Language. In this case, you're teaching English to non-English speakers in an English environment, like Canada, the U.S. or Britain.

TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This describes teaching English to non-English speakers in a non-English environment, like Japan or Taiwan.

TESOL: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. A bit of an umbrella term, this includes both TESL and TEFL.

CELTA: Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults.  CELTA was created in the 1970's in Europe and continues to be the main designation found in Euorpe.  In Canada, TESL and CELTA are equivalents. The CELTA involves 100 hours of training and a minimum of 6 hours of practice teaching.  The term "CELTA" is trademarked and can only be run with the permission of Cambridge university.

DELTA: Diploma of English Language Teaching to Adults.  DELTA is the nex level to CELTA and is taken by those who wish to obtain employment in management of language schools or who wish to be a teacher trainer.  The DELTA is taken after a CELTA and two years of English teaching expeirence.  In Europe, it is equivalent to a Master's degree.

TOEFL: Test Of English as a Foreign Language. Non-native English speakers who want to attend university in Canada or the U.S. must achieve a certain score on this international test.

IELTS - International English Language Testing System.  This test is taken by non-native English speakers to prove their English ability.  Post secondary education insititutes, employers and government agencies may require an IELTS score as proof of English knowledge.

ELT - English Language Teacher.

EAP: English for academic purposes.

ESP: English for specific purposes. This may entail teaching a lawyer legal English, for example.


Most teacher training courses are labelled TESL, TEFL or TESOL, which basically mean the same thing. One isn't more or less valuable than the other, explains Roberts. They're just different names for a nearly identical product.

Return to Choosing a TEFL Course.
Learn more about TESL.

Add this article to your reading list
Published in Work Abroad
Tagged under

Join the Verge Community

Verge Magazine Membership

Join our community of savvy travellers and put nearly two decades of inspiring articles, authoritative information and expert advice to work for you.

Show me more > Login >


Travel Intelligence Bulletin


The latest openings overseas—direct to your inbox.

Subscriber Login


Travel with purpose; travel for good. Articles, resources and events for ethical and meaningful travel, volunteering, working and studying abroad.

Verge believes in travel for change. International experience creates global citizens, who can change our planet for the better. This belief is at the core of everything we do.

Like what you see?

Follow us on social media