Do you often wonder what’s the difference between ESL and EFL in learning the English language? Find out all about them in this post!
ESL and EFL have minor but critical differences. To meet the students’ objectives and goals, English teachers must know the core differences and the meticulous teaching strategies that each method requires.
Read on to get a more accurate view of these two main types of English language learning.
What’s the Difference between ESL and EFL?
According to statistics, there are 1500 million people worldwide who are fluent in English. However, only 375 million of this figure are native speakers. It simply means that out of all the languages globally, English is the number one that most people want to learn. However, it is not surprising since English is the language of business.
Since the need to learn this language is vital to students and professionals alike, many educational institutions worldwide have already doubled their efforts in spreading knowledge about this language. The demand for English teachers is also high, both in physical and online classrooms. However, many educators and students are not aware that there are vital differences between ESL and EFL.
What is ESL?
ESL stands for English as a Second Language. This term serves as a traditional label for students who study the universal language in English-speaking countries such as the USA, Australia, and the UK. They are compelled to learn and enhance their English language skills not only inside classrooms but almost everywhere. The good thing is that ESL students have ample opportunities to practice their skills mainly because they constantly get exposed to English media. They can review news in English, have casual and meaningful conversations with colleagues, or simply socialize with the local people.
It’s also worth noting that ESL students have more substantial demands to learn English because they need it to survive. They have no choice but to practice, which strengthens their English capabilities and skills.
What is EFL?
EFL stands for English as a Foreign Language. EFL students are located in non-English speaking countries. Mostly, they learn English because it’s a part of the school curriculum or mainly because it’s the language of trade worldwide. The EFL students’ exposure to the English language is limited compared to ESL students since most of the time; they are only required to use the language inside their classrooms.
How Can English Teachers Help ESL Students?
Although ESL students have plenty of opportunities to learn the English language, having a teacher who has a proven and tested methodologies can help ease their burden. So, if you’re one, how do you plan to help them? Here are some tips.
Provide ESL students with hands-on lessons and assistance.
If you teach a class full of immigrants, do them a favor by teaching them how to fill out necessary documents and forms. In case you have doctoral students, guide them on how to talk to the academic professors. Perhaps, you might be thinking about teaching them about proper grammar right there and then. However, keep in mind to attend to their immediate needs first and foremost.
Help them understand the country’s culture.
ESL students can come from different places. It’s pretty challenging to ask them one by one about the place they’ve come from, about their traditions and the likes. Well, there’s a time and place for that. To help your ESL students get comfortable, teach them about the cultural norms. Let’s say you’re an English teacher based in the US, and your class came from Asian countries. Tell them the basics of how they can get along with American society. Tell them how the people in your country see them as a foreign nation. You might think it’s not a critical element, but you will find that it can make all the difference in the students’ journeys in the long run.
How Can English Teachers Help EFL Students?
In most EFL classes, teachers use a traditional way. The learning method is carried out step by step. It includes teaching the students grammatical structures, in which the difficulty level increases depending on the students’ age or grade. But while EFL students can master the English language in class, they have limited to no chances at all in terms of practicing what they have learned. Here are some suggestions that can help you provide your students with maximum exposure to the English language.
Create ample opportunities that would require EFL students to use English orally.
EFL students need lots of practice, particularly in speaking. You can teach them about grammar, tell them to read stories or listen to English learning materials. But, the endpoint is, they would usually write down what they have learned in paper-based examinations, right? Try to ask them to converse with a native English speaker, and you would notice that most of your students would falter. To help them practice English, create learning opportunities that would require them to speak. Or conduct speaking tests. In some countries, most educators implement an English-speaking zone within learning grounds.
Give them the motivation to learn the four core skills of learning a new language.
Take time to find what things are dear to your students, such as their hobbies and passion. Create lesson plans that would tie English to the things that matter the most to them. Connect them with English communities that share the same area of your student’s interests.
As an ESL teacher, you might think that your roles are limited within physical and online classrooms. Perhaps, being a guidance counselor is not your cup of tea. But since most of your students are migrants, they will need help along the way, in one way or another. They will likely approach you and tell you their problems, especially when it involves integrating themselves within the foreign community. Lending a helping hand to your students even if it is not included in your job description wouldn’t hurt. For instance, help them apply for a job or connect them with reliable immigrant assistance associations.
On the other hand, most EFL students can get their English exams perfectly. Give them a set of 50 questions, and they can nail them. However, don’t lead them to believe that English speaking should be that precise and formal at all times. Many EFL students are afraid to converse in English, thinking that it will affect their grades if they make mistakes. Yes, the end goal is to get proficient and fluent in speaking this foreign language; however, give them time to learn and guide them as they discover what is right and what is wrong. After all, they don’t get to come across a native English speaker every day, so there’s plenty of things to work out.
Be your student’s greatest support system!
EFL and ESL students need someone who can completely understand them. As a teacher, you should be patient and compassionate in teaching. You should build a connection between you and your students so that you can easily determine their strengths and weaknesses. Remember, you should not be the cause of your student’s distress and frustration. Let them know that you will guide and help them in the best way that you could. It’s a win-win situation, your students will be much attentive and open to ask questions. In your case, it would be easier for you to point out their errors. Students have different attitudes and response to your actions. Some are introverts while some are extroverts. The teacher has to encourage the students to learn and interact with each other and create a healthy learning environment.
Provide creative teaching strategies for them to enjoy learning.
EFL teachers are known to be versatile and creative. You have to balance work and fun inside the classroom by knowing how to use teaching games, jokes, and fun activities to teach, encourage, and inspire students to learn English. If you already know your student’s hobbies and interests, it’s time for you to think of ways to teach them concerning the things they love. If they love games, you can divide the class into groups and play Charades or Tongue Twisters to spice up their excitement. This way, students can learn and enjoy at the same time. You can provide nice prizes to motivate the students to do their best. As long as you’re committed to teaching, you can always think of ways to motivate your students to enjoy and learn at the same time.
What’s the Difference between ESL and EFL: Key Takeaways
ESL is considered the more immersive way of learning English. The students have more vital reasons to learn, and they also have a greater level of exposure to native English speakers. They can apply everything they’ve learned about the English language in almost every situation. On the other hand, EFL students have to find the motivation and the drive to learn the universal language to its fullest extent. Since they are driven by the goal to get high grades and not by things related to survival, it might seem trickier to teach them and to keep their focus at all times.
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