ESL. EFL. EAL. TOEIC. TOEFL. IELTS.
I’m sure you’ve heard some, if not all, of these expressions.
Well, here are their meanings:
ESL = English as a Second Language
EFL = English as a Foreign Language
EAL = English as an Additional Language
TOEIC= Test of English for International Communication
TOEFL = Test of English as a Foreign Language
IELTS = International English Language Testing System
But what do they really mean, in plain English?
The abbreviations and acronyms above have very similar meanings.
To put it simply, they mean that a non-native speaker (a person who didn’t grow up using English) needs a certain skill in English to use in life.
Then we can measure this skill by using a set of standards/ criteria like what we have in TOEIC, TOEFL or IELTS. (this means your Level)
However, these days, the expressions above have taken a completely different set of meanings.
They mean for instance:
ESL, EFL, EAL = “Should I study with a teacher
in a school, or by myself?”
= “How much? How can I learn it for free?”
TOEIC, TOEFL, IELTS = “I have to get a high score.”
There’s a good saying that’s worth remembering this time:
“It’s not the destination. What’s important is the journey.”
Imagine the typical traveler. Sometimes, he gets too worried about his plans and package tours, his camera batteries and travel-book recommendations, so he can’t sit back and just enjoy the view.
This is also true about learning English.
Especially if you just started to appreciate the language, you shouldn’t focus too much on quantity, speed and results. Instead, you should go for quality, long-distance (endurance) and long-term results.
If you do do this, quite naturally and surprisingly, you’ll also learn more.
So, the first thing you should do is come up with your personal idea of English – or, what English means to you.
For example, if you are a backpacker, you can remember something like: “ETL” = English for Travel and Leisure.
If you’re the business-minded person, you can say: “EIS” = English for the Important Stuff.
If you like meeting new friends from different countries, it can be: “EIF” = English for International Friendship.
If you’re a bit of a joker, you can say: “EFL” = English for Fun and Laughter.
You can also simply say: “EFH” = English as a Fantastic Hobby.
Or, “EWP” = English for World Peace, if you are a diplomat of sorts.
As you can see, there are a hundred ways to find the right attitude in learning English.
In the end, please remember that all of us will arrive at the same destination, but we will all have taken different roads and paths.
Wherever the journey takes you, enjoy the adventure and the view.