What is the difference between TEFL, TESL and TESOL?

Defining and differentiating the different acronyms around teaching English as a second language.

People often confuse TEFL, TESL and TESOL, but they are not the same thing! They are similar qualifications and will all allow you to teach english to non-native speakers, but each has its own characteristics.

Defining TEFL, TESL and TESOL

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This certification is best for teachers who want to teach English abroad to students (adults and children) whose first language isn't English. This is the gold-standard of teach English abroad qualifications and is favoured by most schools.

TESL stands for Teaching English as a Second Language. This is a certificate that is used to teach non-native speakers who are living in an English speaking countries, e.g. Teaching non-native English speakers in the USA.

TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of another Language. This is a newer qualification and considered a hybrid of TEFL and TESL. It's recommended to teachers who want to keep their options open and qualifies teachers to teach both at home and abroad. Some countries don't yet recognize this certification, so do some research in advance!