Alternative Terms for ESL

People use many other terms for ESL (English as a Second Language). They might use these acronyms: EFL, ELL, ALP, ELP, etc.

People use many other terms for ESL (English as a Second Language). They might use these acronyms: EFL, ELL, ALP, ELP, and more. Check below.

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They might refer to ESL by these various terms because they are in a different country or because they operate in a different context or focus of language learning.

Other Terms for English as a Second Language

Here are some alternative ways to refer to ESL classes or lessons. These terms might be preferred over ESL in your region.

  1. EFL (English as a Foreign Language)

This term is used when English is being learned in a country where it is not the primary language. EFL is commonly used in non-English-speaking countries.

  1. TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)

TESOL is a broader term that encompasses both ESL and EFL. It’s often used to refer to the field of teaching English to non-native speakers globally.

  1. TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)

Like TESOL, TEFL specifically focuses on teaching English in a foreign language context.

  1. ELL (English Language Learner)

Educators use the term ELL to describe individuals who are learning English, whether in a native English-speaking country or a non-English-speaking country.

  1. ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages)

ESOL is another term used to describe language education programs and services for individuals who are learning English as a non-native language.

  1. ELP (English Language Program)

This term refers to educational programs that provide English language instruction to non-native speakers.

  1. ELLs (English Language Learners)

Instead of calling students “ESL students”, you can use another name for ESL and call them ELL students. Educators often use this acronym because English might. not be a student’s second language. Actually, it could be their third, fourth, or more! So, to avoid this ambiguity, some people refer to ESL students as ELL students.

  1. LEP (Limited English Proficiency)

This term is slightly different from ESL. LEP refers to individuals with limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English and often require additional support to fully participate in English-speaking environments.

  1. CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning)

CLIL is an approach to language education in which subjects are taught through the medium of a foreign language, such as English.

  1. SLA (Second Language Acquisition)

SLA refers to how individuals learn a second or additional language, such as English.

  1. ALP (Additional Language Program)

Like ELP, ALP refers to educational programs that teach additional languages, including English. Instead of calling the classes “English as a Second Language” courses or “English Language Learner” courses, some schools call the courses “Additional Language Programs.”

It might seem overwhelming to read all these different names for ESL classes, but these terms reflect the diversity of language education contexts. They also demonstrate the different ways in which students learn English and teachers teach English around the world. The choice of terminology often depends on the specific field, educational setting, and geographical location. For example, I have heard the term “ALP” used by British teachers on Reddit, liker/OnlineESLTeaching

Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL
Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL

Ingrid Maria Pimsner has been teaching for over a decade in various universities, nonprofits, and private academies. She has taught English as a Second Language for Lutheran Children & Family Service, Nationalities Service Center, Lernstudio Barbarossa Berlin-Tegel, and more. In addition to her Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certification, she holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a MA from Maryland Institute College of Art.