Explaining TESOL | Glossary | Position types | Training options | Seminars

TESOL Career Development

Explaining TESOL
This section is intended for persons interested in the teaching of English as a Foreign Language (EFL), and who have little or no training in the field. In the following paragraphs Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), and Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) will be briefly explained. These terms explain relatively similar activities, however, there are small differences worth exploring.

The first acronym- TESOL- is the most general term and can refer to any situation in which English instruction is being provided to students who do not speak English as a native language.

Next- TEFL- is a more specific acronym that refers to a situation in which English instruction is being provided for non-native speakers of English. The difference here is that the instruction is being provided in the students©ö own country or cultural context. They are learning English as a Foreign Language- as one would learn French or Spanish in their own school in their own English speaking country. They would not normally be immersed in the target language outside the classroom.

Finally- TESL is another specific acronym that refers to a situation in which students are learning English in the country of which the target language is spoken. For example, if Korean students who have moved to the U.S. are learning English in a School in the U.S. they are learning English as a Second Language. The geographical location is different and the intent is different. They will be learning English to use in their daily lives- living in the U.S. Also, they will normally be immersed in English outside the classroom.

Though the difference between TEFL and TESL may seem small, the requirements placed on the teacher may be extremely different. If a person is living in another country and teaching English, they are most likely being called upon to act as a TEFL instructor. This means they may be their students©ö only source of English. Also, TEFL students may be less motivated than TESL students because they see English as a nonessential requirement. It is possible that they will have never spoken to a native English Speaker outside the classroom. This will all vary tremendously from class to class, and from student to student.

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Glossary of Common Terms
The following is a collection of terms commonly used in the field of Teaching English as a Foreign Language. They are perhaps the most common, but this list is certainly not exhaustive. The bibliography in the seminars section should be consulted for those desiring a more complete list.

* T.P.R.- Total Physical Response This is a method first developed by James Asher in the 1970s. Although it is a complete method of teaching, it often simply refers to the technique of allowing a student to respond to a question with a gesture or movement.

*SLA- Second Language Acquisition This refers to the way in which second languages are acquired, and may also refer to the systematic study of the way in which second languages are acquired.

*Native Speaker- A person who begins to speak a language from birth is normally considered a native speaker of that language. It is considered the first language.

*Non-Native Speaker- A person who speaks another language- other than their native language- is normally considered a non-native speaker of that language. However, some persons speak more than one native language and are called bilinguals.

*Four-Skills- The skills groups that the language teaching and learning process is often divided into: Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing.

*Integrated Instruction- The process of providing instruction in all four skill areas (listening, speaking, reading, writing) simultaneously. The opposite of this- discrete skill instruction is a process of providing instruction in one skill at a time (I.e. writing during writing time, and reading during reading time).

*authentic material- samples of language that are real (as used by native or proficient speakers), not produced specially for language teaching.

*cloze test- a test where some of the words have been removed (every 4th, 5th, 6th, etc?) from the passage. The student must fill in the missing words.

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Position Types for TESOL Professionals
Many possibilities exist for a variety of jobs within the field of Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages. As with any industry, these vary largely depending on the level of education, training, and experience of the job seeker.

Private language school teacher
Public School teacher
University or college teacher
Private language school curriculum specialist
Private language school manager/ Director of Studies
University administrator
University Professor
Publishing Company Representative
Freelance Teacher/ Teacher Trainer
Materials Writer

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Training Options
As mentioned above, the professional level one attains in the TESOL field is directly related to their level of training, education and experience. There are many options available for those interested in exploring the TESOL career path.

TESOL Certificates- many schools offer intensive TESOL certificates. These include famous institutions like Cambridge's RSA and the Trinity. They also include numerous lesser know institutions and a variety of online options.

TESOL Degrees- many universities in the U.S. and other English speaking countries offer Bachelors and Masters degrees in TESOL, Education with a TESL/TEFL concentration, and English or Linguistics with a TESOL focus.

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The following seminars are designed for teachers who have had a limited amount of formal training. The terminology will be explained or teachers will be referred to the glossary. More experienced teachers may benefit from the activity sections and the bibliography of useful readings.

Lesson Planning
Using Games and Activities Effectively
Teaching with Music, Songs, and Chants
Working with Very Young Learners
How to teach vocabulary
Writing with Children
Storytelling in the Reading class
Listening and Speaking with young learners
Using Drama techniques and role play
Phonics and the alphabet

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