Training to Teach English Abroad:
What the Course Acronyms Mean
TESL? TESOL? TEFL ? TEYL? Do all of these refer to the same thing?
What the different English teacher training acronyms really mean.
The following is a brief lesson on English teacher training acronyms, which you may need to know if you plan to teach abroad.
1. TESL (Teaching of English as a Second Language). A course of this type only trains people to teach students who already are using conversational English, though often not very well. In other words, graduates of such a course would be at least minimally suitable for teaching students in an international school or university where all courses are taught in English.
Unfortunately, there is really no training to help graduates teach students who are still learning English as a foreign language (not using it conversationally yet), nor for teaching children — just adults.
An example of such a course is the Cambridge CELTA course, that acronym standing for Certificate in English Language teaching to adults.
As reported by many applicants to that course, CELTA interviewers seem to believe (based on some arbitrary task they have assigned) that they are so clever they can say to one course applicant, “We don't think you can learn how to teach”, and to another applicant, “We believe you can learn how to teach if you do well in our course.” We who have taught English in Thailand for up to 4o years now, know that that is impossible! In summary, a TESL course is probably not the kind of course most people wanting to teach in Thailand will need to study.
2. TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), an example of which would be the Trinity TESOL. This is definitely superior to the CELTA in our opinion, but really is not greatly different from a TESL course except by name.
To be fair, although the course trainers do try to encourage teachers-to-be to work out what the learning problems their students might have, based on linguistic differences between their language and ours, it actually provides very little help to make that possible. A TESOL course does, however, provide a little (but only a little) help in the area of teaching children — but unfortunately, probably not as much as teachers in the real world need to know.
In summary, these two major types of courses (TESL and TESOL) essentially train people to teach the same way to students, whether they are Mexican, German, Dutch, Chinese or Thai. That only works up to some point, and then it doesn’t work at all, which is TEXT-AND-TALK have developed our own training course.
3. TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). This type of course is not a great deal better than the two above, except that it does train people to teach students who do not use English as a second language, and also touches at least briefly on teaching children.
The biggest problem with this type of course (as well as with the two others, of course) is that teachers remain baffled for a very long time regarding the reasons why their learners have English learning problems. This type of course is nonetheless much better than the first two above.
4. *TEFL for Target Learner Groups*. Nobody has this type of course except us! In it, we train people in the techniques of comparing and contrasting the way English works to the way the native language of our students works (whether they be Thai or any other nationality). THIS, and only this, unlocks the mysteries about why students have problems learning English.
After all, every language learner tries by nature to graft the way they do things in their own language onto the new language being studied — and that not only doesn’t work, but can also be disastrous in terms of the time needed to master that language!
So what do we mean by a "Target Learner Group”? That is a group of students who all share, or mostly share, the same native language. And they will learn English, and learn it well, if their teacher has learned how to compare and contrast English with their own language, and also their own language with English (not a difficult technique to learn at all, by the way) — and therein discovered exactly what their students’ learning problems are, what has caused the problems and, through the training in our course, learned how eradicate them.
This simply means that a graduate of our course, with a bit of assist from the online resources of Britannica Online or Wikipedia, can learn how any particular language on earth operates and contrast that with English, to discover the English learning problems, and their origins, of native speakers (the target learner group) of that or any other language!
5. TEYL (Teaching English to Young Learners). This is a course of study in itself, because kids have to be taught a bit differently from adults. However, our TEFL for Target Learner Groups Course self-contains a complete TEYL course, enabling you to teach successfully to anyone, from nursery children all the way up to the CEO or Chairman (Chairperson!) of the Board.
A great value, not only in terms of course fees, but also in the teaching skills instilled in teacher graduates, which helps them maximize their earnings as ESL/EFL teachers.