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Graham Davies

EFL, ESL, ESOL, EAL? Whatt do they mean?

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I'm starting this topic because, as a former teacher of Modern Foreign Languages (German and French) I am puzzled by the addition of yet another new acronym, which appears to have arisen from the DfES in the UK: EAL (English as an Additional Language). This issue is also under discussion in another Forum to which I subscribe. It aapears that the DfES is the UK associates ESOL, ESL and EFL with adult learners and/on learners enrolled on a course for non-native speakers of English. What's it all about? This is my own view:

EFL is often more closely associated with learners aged 16+ in some people's minds, but I have heard it applied to primary and secondary school children learning English as a Foreign Language - and you'll find plenty of such references on the Web. ESL in my experience was certainly used in a secondary education context throughout my career from the 1970s to 1990s. In fact, my centre at Ealing College commissioned a guide (published in 1987) on "Teaching ESL to bilingual students" - yes, that is the exact phrase used in the foreword by the ESL teacher who wrote it. He was writing mainly about children living in Southall, growing up speaking Gujurati, Hindi or Punjabi (or a mixture of these languages) at home and English at school. We had a lot of students at Ealing College from this background. Many of them were good linguists, picking up French or German as a third language at school and continuing to study it with us at degree level.

ESOL used to be more common in North America than in the UK, but it's now caught on over here too. On a visit to Miami in 1987 (where I attended the TESOL 1987 conference) I recall ESOL being used in the context of teaching English in primary and secondary schools in Miami where the predominant language of the children was Spanish.

One explanation of EAL that was offered is that it is a more accurate description of English as taught to children already speaking two languages other than English. In many countries in Europe this is quite a common situation - only the additional language offered would not be English, of course. I'm thinking of situtations in border areas, where for example, Catalan, Spanish and French are all spoken, each of which could be taught as the additional "foreign" language, depending on the country/region in which one lives. It can be a political thing.

Bilingualism is the norm in many parts of Europe - as common as monolingualism in the UK: v. Dieter Wolff's publications:

Aufsätze und Schriften zum bilingualen Unterricht

http://www2.uni-wuppertal.de/FB4/bilingu/a...d_schriften.htm

Is EAL just another example of the DfES "doing it's own thing"? The DfES seems to be using a different language from the rest of the world.

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EAL is a new one on me, though it does seem to have a website:

http://www.eal.org.uk

:)

I'm an EFL teacher, and I've often felt what seems to be the antagonism ESL and ESOL teachers display towards us! It's the same kind of antagonism we often get here from teachers of Swedish as a Second Language.

My explanation for the root of this lies in the concept of language EFL teachers tend to use, compared with the one ESL teachers often use. It's a bit like the contrast between communicative teachers and grammar-translation teachers.

It's a bit of shame, really, because the kind of 'commercial' pressure EFL teachers are usually under - to teach people the English they need as efficiently as possible - has been generally good for the development of EFL teaching, in my opinion, and I'm sure there's lots ESL teachers could learn from us!!

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David writes:

EAL is a new one on me, though it does seem to have a website:

http://www.eal.org.uk

Coincidentally, I pointed this out in another forum where this issue is being discussed. I asked if the DfES had done any research into existing acronyms, e.g. CILT's European Award for Languages. I found these - all with websites:

1. EMTA Awards Ltd (a body concerned with vocational qualifications in engineering, technology and related disciplines): http://www.eal.org.uk

2. European Award for Languages: http://www.cilt.org.uk/eal/

3. Educational Assistance Ltd

4. East Asian Library

5. Environmental Awareness Lubricants (a range of products by Mobil)

6. Europe Air Lines

7. Early American Literature

8. Enquiry Action Learning

9. Executive Agency Lobbylist

10. Equitable Access License (USA)

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Graham is right about the acronym "EAL" being used more widely than in the narrow sense of "English as an additional language". Of course, many (most?) acronyms turn out to have more than one expansion. When I searched the Web just now, EFL and ESL yielded lots of results and not just for "English as a Foreign Language" and "English as a Second Language" respectively, although these meanings certainly predominated. I quickly found these alternatives:

EFL

Education for Life (See http://www.efl.org/)

Enlightenment Foundation Libraries

Eastern Football League

Eastern Federal Lands

Email Forwarding for Life

ESL

Electronic Sports League

Earth Sanctuaries Ltd

Energy Systems Laboratory

Economic Science Laboratory

Eastern Soaring League

As I often write on special educational needs online forums (SEN professionals use lots of acronyms), it's always important to spell out what abbreviations stand for when the professional audience is multidisciplinary.

David Wilson

http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/

Edited by David Wilson

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EAL stands for, as has already been said 'English as an Additional Language' and seems to be the most recent way of describing school children whose first language is not English. It is being used by school AEN departments (Additional Educational Needs - used to be SEN...Special Educational Needs) as the required and correct way of describing such children. AEN and ethnicity has to be one of the identified factors when Ofsted calls...you are required to have your class lists showing levels and types of AEN students and those with EAL so that you can demonstrate how you personalise their learning. See...simple really! :tomatoes

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EAL stands for, as has already been said 'English as an Additional Language' and seems to be the most recent way of describing school children whose first language is not English. It is being used by school AEN departments (Additional Educational Needs - used to be SEN...Special Educational Needs) as the required and correct way of describing such children. AEN and ethnicity has to be one of the identified factors when Ofsted calls...you are required to have your class lists showing levels and types of AEN students and those with EAL so that you can demonstrate how you personalise their learning. See...simple really! :tomatoes

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