When you first begin looking into teaching English, you come across a lot of acronyms that can be very confusing until you become familiar with them. Here are some common acronyms and their meanings.

TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This refers to teaching English in a country where it is not the native language, such as South Korea or Costa Rica.

TESL – Teaching English as a Second Language. This refers to teaching English in a country where it is the native language, like the UK or Canada. The main difference between TESL and TEFL is what is imperative for the students to learn. Those who are living in a country that speaks English need to learn important vocabulary and customs for their day-to-day lives, whereas TEFL students may learn a more generalized English.

TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. This refers to teaching English in any situation. As this insinuates a more comprehensive training, TESOL is often the acronym used by universities for their Masters programs in the subject of teaching English.

CELTA – Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults. This is one of the oldest TEFL certification courses, designed and accredited by Cambridge University. Though the name still refers specifically to adults, much of the information taught in the CELTA applies to teaching English to children as well.

IDELT – International Diploma in English Language Teaching. This is a TEFL certification course that is equivalent to the CELTA and qualifies graduates to teach abroad all around the world.

TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language. This is an English proficiency test that non-native speakers take to get a score in their English language fluency, which can help them get into schools or get jobs in English-speaking countries.

TPR – Total Physical Response. This refers to a teaching style that seeks to teach language to non-native speakers in the same way they learned their first language, by providing positive feedback when they perform the physical action the teacher asks them to perform.