Difference between ESL and EFL

Key Difference: ESL is an abbreviation for English as a Second Language, whereas EFL stands for English as a Foreign Language. These are two different approaches of learning English. ESL is used in context to teaching English in multilingual groups in a country where English is the official or dominant language whereas EFL is used in context to teaching English in monolingual groups in their own country.

English has become an important language and it has become a necessity to learn English from the viewpoint of globalization. It has evolved by absorbing vocabulary from different types of sources. The popularity of English can be understood from the fact that people around the world find it relatively easy.

ESL (English as a Second Language) and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) are two different approaches related to English leaning or teaching. In a place where English is to be learnt by non-native speakers in an English-speaking country, ESL approach is adopted. Learning English is very important as English is a dominant  or official language of the place in which the person is residing and without proper knowledge of English one may face problems in even day to day activities.

EFL is another approach meant for people living in their own country where English is not a dominant or official language. English is treated as a foreign language and therefore, people may or may not be interested to learn English. Learning English is not very crucial for these people as English is not a dominant language of that place.

EFL has to focus on practical aspect so that students can use it effectively. EFL can enjoy this liberty as it is not a pressing issue for EFL students. ESL teaching is concentrated on Content and Language Integrated learning rather than grammar. ESL learners want to learn English so that they can be as fluent as natives. EFL is a more universally accepted term. On the other hand, ESL’s definition is often under discussion as some argue it to be third, fourth or even fifth language for some people.

Due to these arguments, many countries like New Zealand and Ireland use the term ESOL English for Speakers of Other Languages or EAL English as an Additional Language in place of ESL.

Comparison between ESL and EFL:

 

ESL

     EFL

Full Form

English as a Second Language

English as a Foreign Language

Definition

Teaching English in multilingual groups in a country where English is the official or dominant language

EFL is used in context to teaching English in monolingual groups in their own country.

 

Importance

If not survival, at least success

Not important for survival or success

Example (in context to country)

Australia, a Chinese person studying English in London.

Columbia, Thailand

Hours

An ESL leaner usually requires more hours of English instruction and practice in comparison to EFL learners

An EFL leaner usually requires less hours of English instruction and practice

Approach

Function based

Notion based

Image Courtesy: adriennethecanadian.com

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